If your the beneficiary of a Will, why would an heir search need to be conducted?

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If your the beneficiary of a Will, why would an heir search need to be conducted?

My uncle left my 2 sisters and I as his heirs in his Will, which was done by an attorney. Why are they saying now that they have to do an heir search? This doesn’t seem right when you have a Will already in place.

Asked on August 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you were specifically named as the only heirs, there is no need for an heir search. As the executor, you, not the attorney, decides whether to do an heir search, unless ordered by a judge; if a judge does order one, you can make a motion to oppose or challenge it. (That does not guaranty you will prevail--the judge may still order it--but at least you have the right, as executor, to be heard.)
There are circumstances, depending on what *exactly* the will may say, in which an heir search is appropriate. Say that your name is John Doe, and your sisters are Jane and Mary Doe. If the will says anything like "I leave everything to John, Jane, and Mary Doe," there is no need for an heir search: the heirs are precisely identified. But say instead it said, "I leave everything to my neices and nephews" but does not identify those neices and nephews by name: in that case, since your parent (or another sibling of you uncle, like another uncle or aunt of yours, if there are any) could have had other children, it may be necessary to make sure there are not half-siblings out there.


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