If you are estranged from parents or other family members, it can be difficult to determine if they have included you in their will. Finding a list of the person's heirs and beneficiariescan be time-consuming even if they live in Maryland, but the problem can be even more challenging if they live in another state. While you might try to search for them on family genealogy sites, they don't always provide the needed information.
If you are wondering if you are entitled to any assets or property, you can pursue information in several ways. Some genealogy sites allow a trial membership period. Another website, DOBsearch.com, lets people access the Social Security Death Master File for no charge. If you are interested, you can also pay an access fee through the National Technical Information Service.
Some states will provide verification of death, but you may require additional information such as the person's date of death. However, you can usually file a request for an official death certificate if you have a valid reason for it. A beneficiary to a person's estate or being named in a life insurance policy could be sufficient rationale to request it.
The person's estate is sometimes handled or addressed by a will. If the person didn't leave a will, state laws cover the appropriate distribution of any assets. An estranged relative may have been intentionally left out of a will, but if there isn't a will, you could still be a beneficiary. You could also review your state's probate records, which are public information.
Finding information on an estranged family member can be time-consuming and challenging. A probate attorney may be able to help clients find out if they have been included in a relative's will.