Tracing Lost Loved Ones

The loss of a loved one can cause pain that doesn’t necessarily subside after an initial period of mourning. Reminders of the lost person can resurface at holidays or anniversaries, causing stress and grief.


If the death occurred recently, you may find information about them in local news articles. Searching online newspaper archives can also be helpful.

Gathering Information

When a loved one goes missing, the family will often want to know more about them. They may be able to recall some details about their personality or favorite idioms that can help narrow down the search.

Another area to look for clues is a loved one’s home. Some individuals keep valuables like jewelry and cash in their homes. You can also search through financial documents such as bank statements and loan applications. These records can reveal who holds their property. They can also lead you to the proper individual or organization that holds your loved ones’ life insurance policies, 401(k)s and other investments.

When someone goes missing, it’s important to provide police with all of the information you have. This will ensure that they’re entered into the National Crime Information Center database so resources can be directed to their case.

Searching for Assets

In some cases, a deceased person may have left a large amount of money in assets. These could include bank accounts, stock investments, life insurance policies and more. Ideally, this information will be listed in their will, but it’s not always easy to find. If you are the executor of a loved one’s estate, it’s up to you to search for these assets and ensure they get passed to their beneficiaries.

This process can be emotionally draining, so it’s important to take your time and be thorough. Start by looking for physical documents at the deceased’s home, including old bank statements, pay stubs and other financial records. You can also look for diaries with notes, PAN cards and bank locker keys. You might also consider searching for digital assets such as cryptocurrency and NFTs, which can be stored on computers, external hard drives, USB sticks or so-called digital wallets.

Another good source of information is to check public online unclaimed property databases. These are state-owned services that track unclaimed funds and property. These can be a useful starting point, but it’s also worth trying to locate the asset in other ways, such as by contacting the deceased person’s former employers or by utilizing an asset search service.

Social Media

Social media makes keeping in touch with friends and family easy. However, it is easy to lose people in the jungle of posts, tweets and pins. Luckily, there are ways to trace someone on social media that have been used by police departments in finding missing persons.

When a loved one dies, the fate of their social media account may seem trivial, but it is important to tie up loose ends. For example, some accounts can be memorialized instead of deleted. This option allows the deceased person’s friends to visit their profile and see what they shared, but it also prevents them from being shown in ads and being recommended to new friends.

If you know your loved one had a Facebook or Instagram account, you can ask them to be memorialized through their settings page. This option is available for all users. Instagram, for example, has a special option to memorialize accounts of people who have died, but you must submit a death certificate to them in order to do so. Other platforms like Twitter allow for account deletion but not memorialization, so it is important to check what their policies are.

Obituary Records

Obituary records are an excellent source of information when tracing lost loved ones. These public documents detail the person’s age at death, birth date, name and other personal details, occupation, spouse, children and other relatives, social organizations and activities, place of burial and more. The obituary may also provide clues as to the person’s background, especially in the case of women where their maiden names are sometimes listed or when they are married or widowed.

The first step is to establish the death date. This can be done by checking obituary indexes, local newspapers for the appropriate time period or contacting a library in the area where the deceased lived to see if they have any copies of those newspaper articles stored in their archives. The Patchogue-Medford Library, for example, keeps a collection of obituaries and other historical news publications and has librarian genealogists available to help. A trip to the local courthouse is another option for finding records, but these are generally only made public once the probate process has been completed. The social security death index is another resource that can be consulted for more recent deaths.

Private Investigation

One of the most common reasons to contact a private investigator is to locate a missing person. Whether it’s a recent disappearance or a case that happened long ago, it can be very stressful to not know what has happened. Private investigators treat these cases very seriously and are able to offer the support that is needed.

A private investigator can search public records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees to help narrow down the search for a lost loved one. They also have the ability to perform national background reports, interview witnesses and even conduct surveillance.

We have helped clients find long lost family members, friends, and ex-lovers who went missing upwards of fifty years ago. Although it’s not always possible to find them, we are able to help give them closure and put their mind at ease. We’ve also helped clients reconnect with their children, spouses and other family members after many years of separation. Choosing a reputable private investigator is the best way to find your missing loved ones and avoid any unnecessary stress.