How do I find out if I have any claim to a deceased relative’s assets?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do I find out if I have any claim to a deceased relative’s assets?

My great-aunt passed away 18 years ago. In the years prior to her death, she had a legal guardian named with whom she apparently lived with her until her death. My research shows that guardianship expired 18 years ago. I believe I am her only living heir. I am trying to determine if she have a Will? How can I find out? Also, was I in it and the guardian did not inform me? It’s relevant because I have notes in the deceased relative’s handwriting informing me of the location of several monetary assets definitely not a will, more of a

Asked on March 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, Oregon


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You are correct that guardianship would have ceased on the death of your Great-Aunt. The best place for you to start would be the Probate Court in the county in which she resided at the time of her death. If a petition for probate was filed that long ago it is likely noted but archived and may ne be discernable via a web search.  That is where I would start.  If there was a Will then you would look to see who the Executor was, what it says and look for what happened to the Probate assets.  It could be that your Great Aunt died "intestate" - there was no Will - but an administration was filed. The intestacy statute in Oregon would then determine the heirs. Again, assets would be listed and the fiduciary listed as well.  The fact that you have information about some of the assets is a plus given the time that has passed. While you do not have to have a lawyer to probate an estate it could help you to employ an asset recovery firm and an attorney on a consultation basis to guide you. Good luck. 

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