Probate Genealogists (sometimes called “Forensic Genealogists”) exist to resolve estate matters involving missing or unknown beneficiaries and next-of-kin. Probate Genealogy combines the research skills of the genealogist; some aspects of private investigation; and an expert knowledge of estate succession and distribution law.
The cases undertaken can range from the location of a beneficiary named in a Will, who has since moved, to the reversion of a life interest in a trust fund, or the resolution of a complex intestacy, involving perhaps more than a hundred individual heirs, in many different countries. Within this range, there fall many variations, each as unique as the individual families involved. Similarly, the values of the estates and the individual entitlements can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds. (Read more…)
A Few Cases from our Files
Following a newspaper appeal by the Ministry of Defence, for relatives of a WWII airman, whose body had only recently been found; we located his son, within a day. (This was dealt with pro bono)
Insurance indemnities can be difficult to arrange for higher valued estates. However, in 2009 we were able to obtain missing beneficiary and missing will insurance – each with a limit of indemnity of £2.3 million.
IR died in 1995, without leaving a valid will. Following research by Payton & Tate, some 210 beneficiaries and beneficial interests were identified – which we believe may have been the largest number of heirs on an English intestacy.
Having been initially instructed to locate the kin of an intestate – some months after having done so, it was a surprise to learn that a will had suddenly ‘turned-up’.
Learning that the person presenting the will (the undertaker who had dealt with the deceased’s funeral) was also executor and a major beneficiary started ‘alarm bells’ ringing – especially when we researched further and found that both witnesses to the deceased’s purported will were themselves dead and that their funerals had been arranged by the same undertaker.
Copies of the witnesses own wills were obtained – bearing different signatures to those on the deceased’s will and a handwriting expert was consulted. Our own involvement ended at that stage. We however understand that the undertaker did not go-on to Inherit!
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