Heir location companies provide a valuable service to courts and heirs. When a person passes away without a will, the heir location service seeks to find heirs and help them through the process of proving their claims. One such company, however, is now accused of breaking antitrust law.
One of the many problems of passing away without an estate plan is that heirs have to be located for the estate to be distributed. Estates plans and wills list heirs by name and normally include their addresses.
However, without even a will, the estate has to locate potential heirs and notify them. Those potential heirs then have to prove to a probate court their right to inherit the estate of the deceased.
To help with this process heir location services have sprung up. For a contingency fee they locate potential heirs and assist them in proving their claims to the satisfaction of the court.
When an heir location company is successful, it receives a lucrative fee from the heirs. Unfortunately, some of those companies might be more lucrative than they have a legal right to be.
Courthouse News Service reports that heir location service Kemp & Associates and one of its co-owners have been charged by the Justice Department for antitrust violations in “Heir-Location Firm Charged in Antitrust Probe.”
The government contends that the company has been conspiring with an unindicted competitor to allocate customers between themselves.
If the charges are accurate, it means the heir location service has been colluding to avoid competition, which would drive up the costs of the services for customers.
Reference: Courthouse News Service (Aug. 22, 2016) “Heir-Location Firm Charged in Antitrust Probe.”