What will happen to my brother's share of inheritance if he cannot be found?

Birdland1950 asked...

My brother was named as one of the beneficiaries in our father's will, but he can't be found. What will happen to his share of inheritance? He was left cash.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Most probate courts operate under the rule that the executor, or person who is named in the will to round up and distribute the property as it directs, must make a "reasonable" efforts to locate all beneficiaries "within a reasonable time."

If the court is satisfied that your brother cannot be found, then the money he was to receive under your father's will should go instead to people or charities in this order:

  • the alternate beneficiary named to take that property if the will included one
  • the residuary beneficiaries named in the will, who commonly are named to take any property that might be left over once the will is administered, or
  • your father's closest relatives, as determined by the laws of your state.