How to Find Out if a Person Died With an Estate

By Michael Butler

Almost everyone has an estate at the time of death: An estate is simply the property the person owned at the moment of death. Most people own something, even if it is only a few personal items. However, you may not know the size of a deceased person's estate. If someone has initiated court proceedings to account for and divide the estate, you can often find out what the estate contains.

Step 1

Go to the clerk of the court's office in the county in which the person lived at the time of death.

Step 2

Ask the clerk if a will has been filed with the court and if it is available for public viewing. If a will has not been filed, ask if proceedings for intestate succession have commenced.

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Step 3

Read the will, if it is available for public viewing, to determine who the executor of the estate is. The executor is the person responsible for determining what property the deceased had at death. If there is not a will, courts often appoint a personal representative to carry out the same function as an executor. Ask the clerk for the contact information of the executor or personal representative; it will be on file with the court.

Step 4

Contact the executor and ask for the information you want. If the executor will not tell you, monitor any legal proceedings for filings and hearings that you can view to ascertain the information.

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How to Find Out If an Estate Has Been Settled
 

References

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How to Find Out If a Deceased Person Had a Will

During a person's lifetime, the only way to discover if he has a will is to ask. The existence of a will becomes public information, however, when the testator dies. The executor files the last will and testament with the court where a probate judge determines the validity of the will and supervises will administration. Probate documents are open to the public for viewing. Once you determine which court probates a deceased person's estate, a look in the court probate file confirms or disproves the existence of a will.

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As the saying goes for real estate, the key to tracking an inheritance is location, location, location – the location of people, records and clues. Details such as where the decedent (the person who left the inheritance) lived, the name of his attorney or accountant, and the name of his executor or trustee all come back to location. When no details are available, then the search may focus on examining databases containing information about unclaimed inheritances.

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