Venice, FL asked in Estate Planning for Florida

Q: Hello. I was contacted today from a research firm looking for heirs to people who passed away and didn't leave a will.

I know the deceased relative and my sister and I are his only living heirs. This firm wants to handle his estate and has already sent me a document to sign allowing them permission to do so with all work done on a contingency basis. This firm has a good reputation online. Should I sign it or should I take it to an attorney?

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2 Lawyer Answers

A: I would go to a lawyer in or near the county where your deceased relative lived just before they died.

It is suspect to me that you are being actively solicited and that they are mentioning a contingency fee.

Phillip William Gunthert agrees with this answer

Phillip William Gunthert
Phillip William Gunthert
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: You should take it to a trusted attorney from the state where this is located. These companies that do it on contingency usually want a hefty percentage and or get you to sign over all sorts of rights and sums. It also depends on what they are promising, if it is unclaimed monies turned over to the state, you can check on this yourself even and pursue it, if this is related to an estate and probate, then a probate attorney can help and advise you. If it is related to homestead and or real estate in probate, you need to move quicker and efficiently, or the property can be lost to HOA claims or taxes. I see a lot of these companies and it usually turns out to be a terrible, no good awful bad day deal. Then again, law offices may require a retainer, hourly fee or they may work with you based on the estate, most will require some sort of retainer/hourly fee payment which varies form law office to law office.

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