Heir tracing

Heir tracing can prove necessary for settling complicated estates. Notaries then call upon our skills to locate unknown or missing next of kin, legatees, or legal beneficiaries. Find out more about how ADD Associés can help find missing heirs.

Why use a probate genealogist to search for heirs? 

Evolving family structures, sociological changes (a deceased person passes away alone, blended families, geographically dispersed families, etc.) and migratory flows are leading legal professionals to call on the services of a probate genealogist to undertake expedited investigations in France or internationally. 

There are several situations in which a professional may need the help of ADD Associés to locate unknown or missing heirs, such as: 

  • No heirs have been identified 
  • There are doubts about the comprehensiveness of the list of known heirs 
  • There is reason to believe that other heirs can be found 
  • One or more heirs who cannot be located have been identified.

ADD Associés, the international gold standard for searching missing or disappeared heirs  

Step 1: An estate professional commissions ADD Associés 

Under French law, since the Law of June 23, 2006 on French inheritance laws, “any person who has a direct and legitimate interest in the identification of heirs or in the settlement of the estate” may commission a probate genealogist. 

Step 2: The probate genealogist conducts research 

This requires expertise, specific investigative techniques, and special administrative authorizations, as well as the human, technological and financial resources needed to track down potential heirs anywhere in the world. 

The probate genealogist’s job is to find heirs, beneficiaries or rights beneficiaries, in accordance with the rules of estate settlement defined by the applicable law, whether French or foreign. This identification and location step often leads the genealogist to travel to different regions, and very frequently internationally (in one in three cases), to conduct further research. 

Step 3: the heir signs a disclosure of inheritance rights contract 

The probate genealogist offers to sign a disclosure of inheritance rights contract with the newfound heir, followed by a power of attorney to represent the heir during the various estate settlement phases and to optimize the heir’s rights. This contractual document sets out the genealogist’s compensation clearly and transparently and will be followed by the disclosure of the origin of the heir’s rights. 

Step 4: the genealogist certifies the list of entitled beneficiaries 

After the research concludes, the genealogist draws up a certified genealogical chart which assumes his or her legal and financial liability and enables the liquidator notary to draw up the notarized legal document required to recognize the rights of the heirs, with confidence and legal certainty. 

Step 5: the genealogist sends the notary all the documents required for finalizing his legal documents and for initiating the settling of the estate 

The documents sent to the notary to be appended to his legal documents and to prove the identity and status of the heirs and beneficiaries are as follows: 

  • The certified genealogical chart 
  • Civil status documents 
  • Additional documents and powers of attorney for heirs represented by ADD Associés. 

Step 6: ADD Associés represents the newfound heir during the estate settlement. 

The resources ADD Associés uses to do the job effectively

  • People ADD Associes


    A team of expert genealogists – jurists, researchers and investigators – in every office.
  • ADD ASSOCIES international


    An integrated international team of professional multilingual researchers (+15 languages spoken), able to carry out investigations and locate beneficiaries in tight timeframes.


    Our proprietary genealogical database is continuously updated, with more than 500 million indexed records.
  • Picto arbre genealogique ADD Associes

    Digital genealogical chart

    TGD, a unique software solution designed by ADD Associés. It makes the information collected more fluid, reliable and is a significant time-saver.

Types of fees 

Fees are contractual when we discover rights to an heir who didn’t know he or she had them. They are laid out transparently in the disclosure of inheritance rights contract. They are calculated as a percentage of the share of the estate owed to the newfound heir. These fees are collected by ADD Associés after prior approval of the distribution accounting by the heir. 

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