What to do about a missing heir?

UPDATED: Feb 13, 2012

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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


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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