What to do about a missing heir?

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What to do about a missing heir?

My stepfather died and left a handwritten Will (legal in the state) leaving all property to his 3 stepchildren, although did not write specific names. The house was paid for by our parents many years ago. We recently found out that that my stepfather had a stepdaughter from his first marriage. The lawyer insists she be found. Not only is this getting very expensive and dragged out, my brothers think he is wrong because the Will does not state 4 stepchildren. This is a fairly small estate. Must she be found?

Asked on February 13, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I suggest that you listen to the advice of the attorney representing the estate of your late father. The reason is that although the will states the three step children but not by specific name, there are four step children and this issue legally has to be resolved as to which step children are to share in the estate.

Legal notice needs to be given to the fourth step child under state law in that conceivably she could be an heir to the estate that you are writing about. Your attorney has an ethical obligation to comply with state law which he or she seems to be doing in trying to locate the fourth step child.


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