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What happens when a heir can't be found during probate?

Temperance, MI |

My father in law died. My husband is upset because he learned of his father's death from a probate lawyer two months after the funeral, and only because the will was never signed, so he's entitled to an equal share of the estate. He doesn't even want the money, but I do.

I don't know who the lawyer is working for. I assume one of the other heirs. Therefore, I'm relucant to contact the lawyer on my husband's behalf. But I don't want to watch him rob himself of his own inheritence.

Attorney Answers 4


I agree with my colleagues. I would add, simply, to respond to your initial question. If an heir cannot be located in a Michigan probate matter, there is a "Missing Legatee" procedure where the money is paid into the County Treasurer's office. It sits there for three years. If no one claims it, then it passes to the remaining heirs or beneficiaries of the estate, as if the missing heir had predeceased. It would appear that since your husband is not "missing," there is no reason for that procedure to be used, here.

James Frederick

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Given that your information about the death of your father-in-law and the unsigned will comes from the lawyer, I think your reluctance is misplaced. I think that you can contact the lawyer to ensure that your husband is being counted as an heir to his father-in-law's estate and will receive his fair share of the estate. You can also contact the probate court in the county where your father-in-law lived to make sure that your husband is listed as an heir in the papers that have been filed with the court.

I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia and regularly handle cases of this sort. You should not rely on this answer. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.

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Most likely the attorney works for the Personal Representative, who is likely one of the heirs. If you want to provide your husband's current address to the lawyer handling the estate, you can do that, and it would certainly help make sure he gets what's coming to him, but don't you think you should discuss this with your husband or else face the possibility that he will resent you for going behind his back? Contacting the lawyer may of course give you an idea of what your husband stands to inherit, and then you can pass that along to your husband. Good luck.

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The attorney that contacted your husband likely represents the estate. Aside from creating strife in your family life, I don't see anything wrong with you contacting the attorney to confirm your husband is included as an heir to the estate. You could also do this by contacting the probate court and checking the probate record.

** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ** My response above is not legal advice and it does not establish an attoreny-client relationship. When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am licensed in California. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose. For specific advice regarding your particular circumstances, you should consult and retain local counsel. Law Offices of Eric J. Gold Telephone: 818-279-2737 Email: service@egoldlaw.con

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