Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
User avatar
Topic Author
mister_sparkle
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:58 pm
Location: Chicago

Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by mister_sparkle » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:19 pm

A friend was talking about a friend of his who recently passed away and named him as the sole heir of his assets. The person who died did have 2 children, who he become estranged from, and he specifically included language in his will that neither of his children should receive anything. One of the children is disputing the will, so there is going to be a court hearing to review the will. The other child (well, adult woman) cannot be located by the usual searches, skip-trace files, etc.

Anyway, my friend wants to know if he should request the estate pay to have a private detective search to locate the other child prior to the court hearing. He's worried that sometime down the line, this person could come out of the woodwork and claim that something wasn't done properly and that they should be entitled to receive whatever assets were passed down.

Is there a statute of limitations on claiming this? Or would going to the private eye route be better, just to get it out of the way?

I don't know how much in assets we're talking about, but it's probably $100,000 at the most.

bsteiner
Posts: 4343
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:39 pm
Location: NYC/NJ/FL

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by bsteiner » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:25 pm

What state?

User avatar
Topic Author
mister_sparkle
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:58 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by mister_sparkle » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:28 pm

Tennessee

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 10313
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:29 pm

So the question is whether to hire a private investigator to track down someone who is specifically named to get nothing? Why? To find her and tell her "Your dad died and left a will. You got nothing".
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 21926
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by dm200 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:32 pm

Just my "common sense" reaction/opinion:

Since only one person has disputed this, I see no need to locate the other party. I would think that this might only be needed if the dispute is validated.

Silk McCue
Posts: 3240
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:36 pm

This link provides a good read specifically to Tennessee regard contesting a will Since the children are excluded by name it is going to be a tough road for them to prevail.
Q: What are the grounds for contesting a will?

The plaintiff must have grounds, or a specific concern validated by the law, to contest a will which in Tennessee include:

Improper execution
Lack of capacity
Undue influence

Any person over age 18, and who has a sound mind can make a will. The will must be in writing, signed by the person making the will (testator) and witnessed and signed by two witnesses in the testator’s presence. The plaintiff would have to prove how the will was improperly executed if these basic requirements have been met. If the plaintiff is claiming lack of capacity, the court will attempt to determine whether this claim is valid. Undue influence occurs when an individual who might stand to benefit tries to pressure the testator. If the plaintiff can prove undie influence, the court may invalidate the section in question or the entire will.
https://www.wagnerinjury.com/2018/02/07 ... tennessee/

My best to your friend.

Cheers

Clarice
Posts: 177
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:26 pm
Location: Orlando FL

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Clarice » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:50 pm

Sounds like stirring the pot. If I was left an estate I’d hope no one would come forward to contest, nor would I actively seek contestors.

aristotelian
Posts: 6333
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by aristotelian » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:11 pm

Your friend should absolutely be talking to a probate attorney and following his advice. I do believe there is a statute of limitations.

User avatar
Topic Author
mister_sparkle
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:58 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by mister_sparkle » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:45 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:36 pm
This link provides a good read specifically to Tennessee regard contesting a will Since the children are excluded by name it is going to be a tough road for them to prevail.
Q: What are the grounds for contesting a will?

The plaintiff must have grounds, or a specific concern validated by the law, to contest a will which in Tennessee include:

Improper execution
Lack of capacity
Undue influence

Any person over age 18, and who has a sound mind can make a will. The will must be in writing, signed by the person making the will (testator) and witnessed and signed by two witnesses in the testator’s presence. The plaintiff would have to prove how the will was improperly executed if these basic requirements have been met. If the plaintiff is claiming lack of capacity, the court will attempt to determine whether this claim is valid. Undue influence occurs when an individual who might stand to benefit tries to pressure the testator. If the plaintiff can prove undie influence, the court may invalidate the section in question or the entire will.
https://www.wagnerinjury.com/2018/02/07 ... tennessee/

My best to your friend.

Cheers
Thanks. I believe that the deceased made a video during the signing of his will, to show that he was of sound mind and not under the influence of anyone else or too drugged up, etc. He also specifically verbalized that his children were omitted intentionally. So I don't see any legitimate reason the missing daughter could assert a claim.

Silk McCue
Posts: 3240
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:59 pm

mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:45 pm
Thanks. I believe that the deceased made a video during the signing of his will, to show that he was of sound mind and not under the influence of anyone else or too drugged up, etc. He also specifically verbalized that his children were omitted intentionally. So I don't see any legitimate reason the missing daughter could assert a claim.
That good news. Hoping the video is "nice and tight". Your friend should review the video. No need to discuss with anyone other than any counsel that might be retained.

Cheers

a_movable_life
Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:33 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by a_movable_life » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:04 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:59 pm
mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:45 pm
Thanks. I believe that the deceased made a video during the signing of his will, to show that he was of sound mind and not under the influence of anyone else or too drugged up, etc. He also specifically verbalized that his children were omitted intentionally. So I don't see any legitimate reason the missing daughter could assert a claim.
That good news. Hoping the video is "nice and tight". Your friend should review the video. No need to discuss with anyone other than any counsel that might be retained.

Cheers
Sounds like the OP's friend expected this possible outcome.

Is there "We will give you X to go away" as an outcome?

Silk McCue
Posts: 3240
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:14 pm

a_movable_life wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:04 pm
Sounds like the OP's friend expected this possible outcome.

Is there "We will give you X to go away" as an outcome?
I wouldn't unless there was no other way. Doing so violates the express directives of the deceased. Open the door an inch and it may get pushed fully open.

Cheers

Mr. Rumples
Posts: 234
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:16 am

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Mr. Rumples » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:27 pm

Every state is different in how they handle probate. First, even though he is the beneficiary, is he the executor (representative in some states) ? Has he filed the paperwork to do this if he is? Does he need a bond or was that waived in the will? Settling an estate is time consuming and expensive. Court filing fees and so forth add up. Has an inventory been done and filed with the Court if needed?

Is IL a state which requires a "just cause" to disinherit an adult child, or is just saying the child is disinherited enough?

I think its fair to say however that if a will is being contested, every thing must be perfect when the estate is being settled. In IL, probate is handled by the Circuit Courts. Where I live, the Circuit Court has a handbook for executors. You can also find resources for executors online. I'd see if you can find these for IL. They should have guidelines as to how to notify next of kin and what is a reasonable search.

Not sure how it works in IL, but in Va. if there is no executor, the Commissioner of Accounts administers the estate and its up to her/him to be sure its done right. Of course, they get 5% of the final estate, not a bad cut.

http://circuitclerk.org/folder-print/pr ... sedpkt.pdf
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:41 pm, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
FIREchief
Posts: 3572
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by FIREchief » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:32 pm

mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:19 pm
A friend was talking about a friend of his who recently passed away and named him as the sole heir of his assets. The person who died did have 2 children, who he become estranged from, and he specifically included language in his will that neither of his children should receive anything. One of the children is disputing the will, so there is going to be a court hearing to review the will. The other child (well, adult woman) cannot be located by the usual searches, skip-trace files, etc.

Anyway, my friend wants to know if he should request the estate pay to have a private detective search to locate the other child prior to the court hearing. He's worried that sometime down the line, this person could come out of the woodwork and claim that something wasn't done properly and that they should be entitled to receive whatever assets were passed down.
Who is the personal representative for the estate? Is it the friend/sole heir or somebody else?
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Silk McCue
Posts: 3240
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:41 pm

Mr. Rumples wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:27 pm
Every state is different in how they handle probate. First, even though he is the beneficiary, is he the executor (representative in some states) ? Has he filed the paperwork to do this if he is? Does he need a bond or was that waived in the will? Settling an estate is time consuming and expensive. Court filing fees and so forth add up. Has an inventory been done and filed with the Court if needed?

Is IL a state which requires a "just cause" to disinherit an adult child, or is just saying the child is disinherited enough?

I think its fair to say however that if a will is being contested, every thing must be perfect when the estate is being settled. In IL, probate is handled by the Circuit Courts. Where I live, the Circuit Court has a handbook for executors. You can also find resources for executors online. I'd see if you can find these for IL. They should have guidelines as to how to notify next of kin and what is a reasonable search.

http://circuitclerk.org/folder-print/pr ... sedpkt.pdf
The OP stated that they are in Tennessee, not IL. I provided a link to a Tennessee lawyers website on the subject.

Cheers

Mr. Rumples
Posts: 234
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:16 am

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Mr. Rumples » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:44 pm

Thanks, sorry...got all excited...am currently actually researching the estate of Daniel Parke who died in 1710; his estate was still being disputed in the 1770's.

User avatar
Topic Author
mister_sparkle
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:58 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by mister_sparkle » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:17 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:32 pm
mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:19 pm
A friend was talking about a friend of his who recently passed away and named him as the sole heir of his assets. The person who died did have 2 children, who he become estranged from, and he specifically included language in his will that neither of his children should receive anything. One of the children is disputing the will, so there is going to be a court hearing to review the will. The other child (well, adult woman) cannot be located by the usual searches, skip-trace files, etc.

Anyway, my friend wants to know if he should request the estate pay to have a private detective search to locate the other child prior to the court hearing. He's worried that sometime down the line, this person could come out of the woodwork and claim that something wasn't done properly and that they should be entitled to receive whatever assets were passed down.
Who is the personal representative for the estate? Is it the friend/sole heir or somebody else?
The friend/sole heir is the executor of the estate, but there is an attorney he has hired to handle the probate process.

AFAIK, the person that died had very few assets as he had been in assisted living/hospice type living for 2 years. A small insurance policy paid for his funeral and there was one savings account. He was on Medicare, so his final medical bills still need to be taken care of.

User avatar
FIREchief
Posts: 3572
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by FIREchief » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:46 pm

mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:17 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:32 pm
mister_sparkle wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:19 pm
A friend was talking about a friend of his who recently passed away and named him as the sole heir of his assets. The person who died did have 2 children, who he become estranged from, and he specifically included language in his will that neither of his children should receive anything. One of the children is disputing the will, so there is going to be a court hearing to review the will. The other child (well, adult woman) cannot be located by the usual searches, skip-trace files, etc.

Anyway, my friend wants to know if he should request the estate pay to have a private detective search to locate the other child prior to the court hearing. He's worried that sometime down the line, this person could come out of the woodwork and claim that something wasn't done properly and that they should be entitled to receive whatever assets were passed down.
Who is the personal representative for the estate? Is it the friend/sole heir or somebody else?
The friend/sole heir is the executor of the estate, but there is an attorney he has hired to handle the probate process.

AFAIK, the person that died had very few assets as he had been in assisted living/hospice type living for 2 years. A small insurance policy paid for his funeral and there was one savings account. He was on Medicare, so his final medical bills still need to be taken care of.
Thanks for the additional info. If this is the case, do you know why one of the children is disputing the will? If there will be minimal/no residual assets to pass along to beneficiaries, then why is the friend even messing with this? Just because a person is nominated as executor in a will, it doesn't mean they have to serve.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Silk McCue
Posts: 3240
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:54 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:46 pm

Thanks for the additional info. If this is the case, do you know why one of the children is disputing the will? If there will be minimal/no residual assets to pass along to beneficiaries, then why is the friend even messing with this? Just because a person is nominated as executor in a will, it doesn't mean they have to serve.
The original post said it could be $100k. That has since been muddled and the discrepancy not explained.

Cheers

Freetime76
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:26 pm

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by Freetime76 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:37 am

Two thoughts for the OP:
1. Was the estate’s attorney consulted? My understanding is that TN requires an attorney be involved in the administration of an estate (a flat-fee service, it might be). My mom lives in TN, and this is what she said regarding her will.

2. Personally, I would not hire a PI - the only requirement is to notify beneficiaries, which means people who receive something through the will. Anything that doesn’t go through probate - such as life insurances or POD/TOD accounts are outside the will’s authority. [Anyway, due diligence - notifications via certified mail to last known address would be a courtesy, but awkward (!).]

Let the lawyer deal with it, and only do what is required as a fiduciary.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 9729
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Settling a disputed estate, cannot locate one survivor

Post by celia » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:54 am

If your friend prevails against the known child, I think that would also cover the other child.
A dollar in Roth is worth more than a dollar in a taxable account. A dollar in taxable is worth more than a dollar in a tax-deferred account.

Post Reply