Finding out if an estate is established for a deceased person is a task that you can undertake on your own. You do not need professional assistance to locate a pending estate. The process of locating an open estate is uncomplicated because courts in most jurisdictions strive to make their informational services as easy to access as possible. You do need to obtain some basic background information before contacting the court. However, this supplemental information is accessible from public sources.
Obtain a copy of an obituary or death notice of the individual who is deceased. Newspapers make these notices available through their Internet website for a period of at least six months following a death.
Note the residence of the deceased. By law, estates are opened in most cases in the county of residence at the time of a person's death. An estate also can be opened in the county where an individual died if it is not the same as his residence.
Telephone or otherwise contact the clerk of the court in the county of residence of the deceased individual. Request to speak with an associate clerk in the probate division or department.
Provide the name of the deceased individual to the clerk's staff. The clerk's office will be able to advise you of whether or not an estate is opened for that individual.
Contact the clerk of the court in the county where the individual died. Make this secondary contact if there is no information about an open estate in the county of residence.
- Consider checking back with the clerk of the court's office every month during the year following an individual's death to ascertain whether an estate is opened.
- You do not need to make a personal appearance at the courthouse to collect this information. You can telephone the court clerk and obtain the information you seek.
- "Wills, Probate, & Inheritance Tax For Dummies;" Julian Knight; 2008
- "Estate & Trust Administration For Dummies by Margaret Atkins Munro & Kathryn A. Murphy; 2008
- Uniform Probate Code