Why Do I Need a Forensic Genealogist?
We will be the first to admit that most people do not know what a forensic genealogist does, or why they are necessary. While it is a lesser-known specialty, forensic genealogy serves a vital service in ensuring the effective administration of probate and the proper distribution of estates. Below, we discuss the important functions of a forensic genealogist in administering an estate. Call a professional forensic genealogist for dedicated and detail-oriented assistance identifying the proper heirs to an estate.
Locate Missing Heirs
When a person dies intestate (with no will or applicable trust), the passage of their estate follows in accordance with the applicable state law of intestate succession. Intestate succession dictates that the decedent’s estate is distributed to their closest living relatives, going one step further each time no one is able to locate each level of relation (spouse and children to brothers and sisters, to parents, to cousins, to aunts and uncles, etc.). The specific procedure is outlined in each state’s law, but in order to be effective, it is necessary to know exactly who the decedent’s relatives are, and which of them are still alive.
A forensic genealogist can help the administrator of an estate create an accurate family tree of all of the decedent’s relations in order to identify who in their family may still be alive, and where to find them. Even when a potential living heir is identified, tracking them down can be a complex process. Forensic genealogists will help you determine who the proper heirs may be, their relation to the decedent, and how to contact them. If no living heirs exist, your forensic genealogist will issue a report certifying that you have done your due diligence in trying to track them down.
Validate Putative Heir Claims
Finding missing heirs is not the only function of a forensic genealogist. When a person passes away intestate, there are often purported “relatives” who pop up out of nowhere, hoping to get a free share of the estate. These individuals might arrive at the prompting of unscrupulous heir hunters, who work to come up with putative heirs just to take a handsome cut of the inheritance. Alternatively, even where several heirs may have a claim, it is necessary to identify just how they are related to the decedent and the exact nature of their relation.
A seasoned forensic genealogist can research the history and genealogy of the deceased and the putative heir in order to properly evaluate their claim. Having the same last name or having a distant relative of the same name as a decedent is not sufficient to claim a portion of an estate. Our forensic genealogy team will ensure that the estate is distributed properly and in accordance with the law.
If you’re an estate administrator in need of experienced assistance identifying and locating missing heirs to an estate and for determination of heirship proceedings, or heir research services in order to satisfy due diligence requirements, contact the dedicated and professional forensic genealogists at Von Langen, LLC at 800-525-7722.