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6 Conn. Prob. L.J. 87 (1991-1992)
Heir-Hunting Agreements: Recommendations for the Extension Probate Court Jurisdiction

handle is hein.journals/qplj6 and id is 93 raw text is: HEIR-HUNTING AGREEMENTS:
Heir-hunters are frequent visitors to Connecticut's probate
courts.' The probate courts grant heir-hunters access to probate
records that identify estates whose probate has been delayed due
to missing heirs.2 Connecticut's probate courts are unable to over-
see the activities of these self-serving intermeddlers because our
probate courts currently have no jurisdiction over agreements be-
tween heir-hunters and beneficiaries of estates. In Connecticut,
heir-hunting is essentially an unregulated practice. Many other
states, however, regulate heir-hunting by either statute or common
law. In some jurisdictions, the legislature has authorized probate
courts to examine such assignments.3
Heir-hunters sometimes provide a useful and necessary service.
Very often, however, they are intermeddlers advancing their own
financial interests at the beneficiaries' expense. A common law de-
cision or statutory enactment prohibiting all heir-hunting activity
would eliminate an enterprise that is sometimes beneficial and so-
cially productive. Maintaining the status quo, however, risks ex-
ploitation of heirs and probate proceedings by these self-serving
intermeddlers. If the probate courts reviewed such agreements,
then heirs would be protected from unscrupulous heir-hunters
while reputable heir-hunters could continue to provide their
This Note examines the practice of heir-hunting as it may effect
probate proceedings when an uninvited heir-hunter operates
outside of those proceedings. In this instance the heir-hunter will,
independently of the probate proceedings, seek to secure an assign-
' Telephone Interview with Marge Tanzallo, Clerk, Trumbull Probate Court (July 31,
1991) (Oh, they call here all the time.); Telephone Interview with Isabelle Shea, Clerk,
Fairfield Probate Court, July 31, 1991) (They send us letters and forms to fill out all the
See, Twiss v. Department of Treasury, 239 N.J. Super. 342, 571 A.2d 333 (1990).
CAL. PROB. CODE § 11604 (West 1990); N.Y. SURR. CT. PRoc. ACT § 2112. (McKinney

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