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Forensic Genealogists &
International Investigations
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What is a Forensic Genealogist?

sign that reads Genealogist

If you’re looking for help in locating someone in regards to a legal matter, you may have run into people calling themselves heir hunters, as well as those labeled as forensic genealogists. Both offer person-locating services, but the term “forensic genealogist” can sound a bit mysterious. What do forensic genealogists do, and how is it different from the work of a traditional genealogist? Read on to learn more about the field of forensic genealogy.

What is forensic genealogy?

Forensic genealogy is the study of ancestry for use in legal fields. Like traditional genealogists, forensic genealogists investigate and create genealogies and establish family bloodlines, often using some of the same sources of evidence. The main difference is that forensic genealogists will produce a legal identification of an individual that can stand up to the exacting standards of proof required to present their results in court.

How do forensic genealogists locate missing heirs and family members?

Forensic genealogists might begin their research with the local office of records, examining birth and census records to establish the basic elements of a lineage. This is only the beginning of the research process. Forensic genealogists will use all manner of record databases, in-person interviews, internet research, DNA evidence, and photographic evidence to uncover someone’s family history or current whereabouts. For example, a forensic genealogist might use advanced magnification and color amplification technology to take a closer look at a photograph, enabling them to read license plate numbers, advertisements, or street signs that would otherwise be unidentifiable.

What sorts of work does a forensic genealogist do?

Frequently, it is an attorney, bank, trustee, oil and gas company, or estate administrator who will hire a forensic genealogist to find someone who stands to inherit money, property, or mineral rights. Forensic genealogists also may be hired to determine whether the claims of an heir are verifiable or fraudulent.

That said, forensic genealogists can be hired by persons other than attorneys or those needing help with a legal matter. One example of such a use is for someone who was adopted at birth to hire a forensic genealogist to locate their birth parents. In one famous case, a forensic genealogist used their skills to identify the persons who had posed in a well-known painting by Rembrandt.

For experienced and effective assistance with the task of locating someone for an estate administration or other matter, contact the offices of Von Langen, LLC at 800-525-7722.