The Determination of Heirship Process

The Determination of Heirship procedure involves a series of steps:

  1. Application submitted to the court, requesting the court issue an order listing the heirs.
  2. Notice. After filing the application with the court, an ad/notice in a local newspaper must be run notifying the public that you are looking for any unknown or missing heirs of the decedent.
  3. Appointment of an attorney ad litem. The court will appoint an “attorney ad litem” to represent any unknown or missing heirs, and to find out if everyone is correctly represented.
  4. Discovery process. The attorney ad litem and your attorney will interview witnesses (at least two), and review documents such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees to see if there is a chance that there are any unknown heirs.
  5. Hearing. You, your attorney, the attorney ad litem and at least two witnesses will appear in court. During this hearing, your attorney and the attorney ad litem will ask the witnesses questions and discuss the family history of the deceased. When complete, the attorney ad litem will discuss the findings in the report and the judge will make a determination of who are the heirs of the deceased, and issue a judgment. (A “judgment” in this case is a court order, in writing, reciting that the deceased person is dead, the date of death and a list of who are the heirs.)
  6. Proof. Once the judgment is issued, copies of the judgment can be used to show proof as to who is entitled to estate assets.
  7. (If Needed) Administration. If Administration of the Estate is deemed to be necessary, additional paperwork will need to be filed during the Application phase, and additional duties will have to be carried out by both your lawyer and the appointed Administrator. (See the Probate with a Will Process).

Sometimes, additional legal services are required to streamline this process or to keep costs done. This usually is the case when we have blended families, multiple heirs, minor heirs or incapacitated heirs, to name a few. If additional services or Estate Administration is required an additional Fee will be charged, either on flat fee or hourly basis.

Contact us today to help you with your Probate Needs! We can help. We offer affordable flat fee options, hourly fees or hybrid fee solutions where appropriate.

We offer Determination of Heirship with a Flat Attorney Fee (plus court & filing fees).

*If the decedent’s estate requires more than one (1) court appearance, formal administration, or things becomes contested, the fee will be higher.
Typical Court & Filing fees are: Filing fee (about $300); publication fees (about $200); and the attorney Ad Litem fee ($500-1500).

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Determination of Heirship

No Valid Will Exists
Court Determines Legal Heirs
Administration Might be Required
Ad Litem Required
Attorney Assistance Required

Fee Depends on Facts of the Case