Say I leave my estate to my child, who has run away from home. (I know I’ve mentioned here that I’m drafting a will, and that I’m estranged from one of my kids, but this is purely hypothetical—I’m thinking about writing a detective novel.) Now say I die, and she is still missing. If she is deceased, my brother would get my estate, but all he or anyone knows is that my child hasn’t been seen for several years.
What has to happen for my brother to inherit? Does my entire estate have to be expended searching for my kid? Does a certain amount of time have to pass without turning up a clue? Is there some standard of evidence that allows a judge to declare my brother to be the heir? How does this work?
Again, this is not a search for legal advice, other than hypothetical. My protagonist is a detective who’s looking for a missing heir, and I’m trying to figure out how hard he needs to look, how long he needs to stay on the case, etc.
Also if anyone knows of any novels with this plot, warn me of that so I can read them. I’m aware that the whole missing-heir thing is kind of a chestnut, but I can’t remember any specific novels or films about a detective doing such a search. I’ll open a separate thread in Cafe Society if this avenue proves fruitful, but mainly I’m interested in the nuts and bolts of the task of searching for a missing heir.