Q: Is a Heir Search required in NYC if we as the stepchildren are named in the will of our stepfather who came from Poland?
My stepfather came from Poland at ten years old with only one brother and parents (all deceased). He was with my mom for forty years and never mentioned Polish relatives as he was here since a child. He named me and my siblings in his will specifically. I am named executor of his estate in NYC. The attorney is asking us to show due diligence to the court and due a global and domestic search for heirs on account of his not adopting us. HeirSearch is quoting $7k to do this. Is this absolutely necessary as I want to be prudent with limited estate funds? Are we required if named in the will specifically to look for international relatives? He was here before he was an adult so no chance for children abroad.
A: If the decedent has no children or spouse the Court requires an affidavit of Heirship. Sometimes the attorney draftsman will take information directly from the testator now the decedent and he can provide a supporting affidavit. Your attorney should submit an affidavit of Heirship if someone can provide that. If the Court is asking for an affidavit of due diligence it’s for jurisdictional purposes. One way to do that is through a kinship attorney and sometimes a genealogist is necessary. It’s international because your father and his parents are from another country so it would be required. It’s not about your fathers children because he has none, it’s about possible siblings, aunts, uncles etc.
A: Even if there is a will, the next of kin must be cited, as the next of kin is a necessary party. Here, you do not know the next of kin, as it will likely be a cousin. Thus, the court is right. However, you can do your own search. Call the Polish consulate in NYC, and see if there are records you can access from here. If not, you are going to need a professional search but HeirSearch is not the only game in town.
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