Does a family member have to be located?

My wife is executrix of a will. There is a sister with whom there has been no contact for many years. She is not a beneficiary of the will and the entire estate (perhaps $150,000 including a retirement account) is to go to our adult daughter. Does my wife have to contact (or attempt to contact) the sister? Thankyou.

Asked on June 16, 2009 under Estate Planning, New York


S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

When a will is probated anyone who would be entitled to inherit under the laws of intestate succession have to be notified. I am not sure whose will is being probated. If the decedent died without a spouse or children then her parents would inherit. If the parents are deceased, then the sister would inherit. Therefore if this is the case, the sister would have to be notified. Attempts to serve her with the probate petition must be made. If they are not successful than you have to apply to the court for substitute service by other means which could require publication in a newspaper. However, a diligent search would have to be made.

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am a lawyer in CT.  I am not aware of any rule that requires you to notify the sister.  I presume that the death was reported int he paper and the sister is award of the death as well.  I suggest trying to contact her or sending her a letter notifying her of the existance of the will so that this does not ever come back to bite you.  While you may not be required, i suggest sending the sister a letter via certified mail a copy of the will and letting her know that this will be probated and the decedent's wishes will be honored as stated therein.  This way, the sister can never say she was not on notice of her rights.  do the right thing here.

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