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What happens if my family is out of touch when I die?

It can happen to the most stable relationships. Whether there is a conflict or changes in life take the family in separate directions, sometimes the people in your life become distant.

When you drafted your estate plan, you had an idea of how you would distribute your assets. Although you may not want to change who gets what, there may be people who are now more distant.

Here’s what happens with your estate when your loved ones are difficult to reach.

Preventing a problem

Unfortunately, sometimes loved ones can grow more distant over time, including your personal representative. It may be time to consider a change in your plan if it becomes difficult (or impossible) to reach the person you chose as your personal representative.

Your personal representative is the most important person in your estate plan. Even if the personal representative is not going to inherit any assets, they will handle locating heirs, distributing assets, and overseeing payment of any debts or taxes. If you have lost contact with this person, consider hiring a trustee to handle this part of your estate plan.

The case of the missing heir

If someone other than your personal representative is unreachable, it is up to the personal representative to make reasonable efforts to find the missing heir. In addition to making phone calls, your personal representative may need to put advertisements in a local newspaper to locate a missing heir.

Eventually, there is a time limit. If there are people in your estate plan who cannot be reached, your assets will escheat to the state.

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