Our partners at WISC News 3 in Wisconsin report on the story of a woman who received a surprise notice in the mail. A Wisconsin locksmith had died unexpectedly without a will or next of kin. A firm offered to prove that she was the man’s distant cousin and entitled to his estate in exchange for a contingency fee of 25% of her portion of the estate. Surprised by the news and thinking that the estate would likely be worth a small amount of money, she signed the agreement. Later, she was contacted by the guardian ad litem connected to the estate, who told her the estate was actually worth about $3.4 million. Concerned that she had just agreed to give away much more money than she realized, she reached out for information on the industry, which proved hard to find. She is currently in dispute with the heir finding company.
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Experts suggest following a few basic tips if you are contacted by an heir finding company. First, talk to a lawyer. They will be able to tell you if the agreement the heir finder is proposing is legal, and also whether the proposed fees are reasonable.