Heir Hunting

For more than 150 years, companies called “heir hunters” have operated in the shadows of the court system. Heir hunters monitor probate filings to identify intestate decedents who have missing or unknown relatives. They then perform genealogical research, locate the decedent’s kin, and offer to inform them about their inheritance rights in exchange for a share of the property. States are sharply divided about whether to enforce contracts between heir hunters and heirs. This discord stems from the fact that we know virtually nothing about heir hunting.

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