The Process

of Probate Research

Death of the Testator 

When someone dies, it is up to the probate court to determine whether a last will and testament exists, which is often not the case. It also has to find out whether any next-of-kin are known and if yes, where they live.  

Official Investigation

If nothing is known about the heirs, the probate court will start an investigation, collaborating with local authorities and the police. Should the authorities prove unable to find any next-of-kin, the estate remains unclaimed and becomes property of the state, unless an appointed probate research company steps in and is able to locate the rightful heirs.

Professional Probate Research

Even if neither a testament nor close relatives exist, there may be rightful heirs among the broader family. Thus, we, the probate researchers, are researching the past of the testator to get an insight into their family relations. We do not solely rely on the internet, but have access to specialized databases and archives, allowing us to collect important puzzle pieces, which we can then use to build a complex family tree. Quite often we find heirs who did not even know the deceased.

Of course, the right of inheritance has to be proven beyond any doubt, so whenever we cannot be sure whether someone is indeed related to the deceased, we contact this person and verify details. The more detailed the potential heir’s information is, the quicker the claims can be realized.

Once the heirs have been found, we will offer them a contract with us, which commits us to take all steps necessary to make sure that the heirs will receive their inheritance. To fulfill this commitment, we require all heirs to sign a contract with us before we can divulge all the information.  As soon as we have the signed contracts, we will start the process of proving the inheritance claim and registering it with the probate court. 

Legal Process after Probate Research

Once all heirs have been located, we can apply for the so-called certificate of inheritance, which will be issued by the probate court after all documents have been examined.  

With this certificate, we can receive the inheritance and commission a tax advisor to prepare the inheritance tax declaration. As soon as taxes have been filed, the inheritance will be paid out according to the heirs’ legal shares, minus our remuneration. 

Upon completion of our probate research, all heirs receive a family tree, explaining all the familial connections. This family tree can also be delivered in digital form if preferred.

Share of the Inheritance

The amount of each share of the inheritance depends on the following:

  • The inheritance law of the country in which the testator deceased (inheritance tax) 
  • The degree of kinship with the deceased 
  • Number of heirs in the heir community 
  • The net-value of the estate after the settlement of liabilities 

Until the certificate of inheritance has been issued and the final balance has been established, we are only able to approximate each share. There may be changes during the course of our investigation and the completion of the case, which may change the end result significantly.

Why Erbenermittlung Emrich? 

Of course, the heirs can also directly apply for a certificate of inheritance at the probate court. However, in many cases, the matter of the estate is not or not sufficiently settled. A community of heirs can consist of more than 20 heirs, some of which may live abroad. Research is often complex, time-consuming and expensive because everything has to be documented and the heir has to prove not only his or her own claim, but also the claims of all other potential heirs. We are researching heirs, resolve questions, and take care of all necessary paperwork and documents of proof. Furthermore, we can use all our documents to prove several claims simultaneously.

Do you have any questions? We are always ready to talk to you and to a lawyer you trust. Just give us a call!