What makes USLegalWills.com the best?
Complete Strangers May Get a Share of Your Estate
The consequences of dying without a Will
July 1, 2001 -- Another case demonstrating the consequences of dying without
a Will has been reported in California. This time the California Supreme Court reluctantly
decided that a widow whose husband died without a Will must share his property with
his half siblings, even though he never knew of their existence.
USLegalWills.com CEO Tim Hewson notes: "This case is interesting, because it
highlights the growing industry of 'heir hunting', whereby professionals provide
a service for relatives of people dying without a Will. The service notifies survivors
and then takes a cut of any inheritance claim, even if the survivors have never
heard of the deceased." This is exactly what happened in the case of Denis H. Griswold,
a Santa Barbara resident who was born out of wedlock and whose biological father
paid child support for 18 years. The father and son never had any contact before
they died, and Griswold only learned of the existence of his father when he came
across a birth certificate as an adult.
Griswold died without knowing that he also had two half siblings in Ohio. They,
in turn, did not know about him until a professional "heir hunter" (or "forensic
genealogist") researching probate and birth records called them up and told them
that they could inherit some money.
Regardless of the circumstances, the court said that the law states that the
half siblings are entitled to half of Griswold's estate, estimated at $300,000.
Tim Hewson goes on to note: "This is a particularly tragic case in that the deceased
clearly wanted his medically disabled widow to receive his full inheritance. He
is unlikely to have wanted his biological father to have shared in his estate. It
is almost certain that he would not have wanted other offspring of this man to take
This case also demonstrates that the people's negligence in not creating a Will
has led to the industry of heir hunting. They typically work for a 30 percent cut
in any inheritance, look for people dying without a Will and then contact relatives
out of the blue indicating that they might have an inheritance.
"At first, the profession may seem a little seedy when described in the context
of this unfortunate case", Hewson explains, "however, there can be some value in
this service in tracking down relatives to an estate that has no known beneficiaries.
Without this service, the estate could just pass to the government, and so no matter
how tenuous, it may be better to keep the estate within the family."
If this sounds messy though, and it is, it can all be avoided by writing a Will.
"Most people put off writing a Will for a variety of poor reasons, even though their
whole life's worth is at stake.", Hewson notes, "They could instead have piece of
mind right now by logging on to USLegalWills.com and preparing their Will online
in less than 30 minutes. Everybody has a choice of whether to die without a Will
and risk losing their estate to strangers, or spending 30 minutes online deciding
who will receive their wealth. It really isn't much of a choice."
For more information about creating a Will take a look at the
MyWill™ service offered at USLegalWills.com.
If you would like more information about the MyWill™
service or about any of the other services available at USLegalWills.com, visit
(Reported by MAURA DOLAN, June 22, 2001 Los Angeles Times - 'Strangers'
to Get Half of Estate)
(Note that you can create your Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will online at
For More Information Contact: