HeirSearch Expertise Overcomes Gap in Public Records & Uncovers Rightful Heirs Overlooked by Heir Hunter
In this HeirSearch™ success story, we explore the curious case of a decedent with a substantial estate and no children, forcing us to overcome many years of incomplete African-American public records. But when an independent heir hunter threatened to compromise the heirs’ inheritance, the estate attorney enlisted our services to find the rightful heirs.
HeirSearch was hired to investigate the family tree of a recently deceased individual with an estate valued at roughly five million dollars. The Special Administrator, a lawyer based in Maryland, tasked our team with identifying and locating the rightful heirs on the family’s paternal and maternal sides, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and their descendants. Our seemingly straightforward task actually had a significant complication. An heir hunter firm had already initiated an unauthorized estate search and was actively tracking down the estate’s heirs. Our researchers had to identify the heirs quickly and accurately, so the Special Administrator could fulfill their fiduciary duty and distribute the maximum share due to the lawful heirs.
The client provided some preliminary information, including the maternal family tree, which identified several first cousins once removed. At this point in our investigation, some of these descendants, who were identified by the heir hunter, were believed to be the closest living heirs to the decedent according to consanguinity. Therefore, these individuals were pegged to be first in line to receive the inheritance. The paternal side, however, remained incomplete. One of the primary challenges we faced was that the family was of African American descent, a historically underrepresented demographic in vital public records.
Our research team conducted an extensive investigation in Baltimore, Maryland, and Buffalo, New York, where the paternal and maternal families resided. Given the gap in available public records, our investigative approach had to be exceptionally creative. It was during this research we discovered a birth certificate for a half-blood sister of the decedent and a marriage certificate for the decedent’s father and first wife. Furthermore, we discovered a subpoena in the divorce record of the decedent’s father and his first wife, which matched the previous documentation we identified. This crucial piece of information proved the decedent’s father had a previous marriage, which resulted in a sister of the half-blood to the decedent.
Based on the information uncovered during our investigation, we established that the decedent had the following heirs:
- One sister of the half-blood, deceased
- Three nieces and nephews of the half-blood, one deceased, and two living
- One grand-niece and one grand-nephew of the half-blood, one deceased and the other living
This genealogical link helped us conclude that the maternal first cousins once removed, who had already been contacted by the heir hunter firm, were not in fact, the decedent’s closest rightful heirs.
Thanks to our meticulous research and heir-finding expertise, we were able to provide the attorney with a comprehensive report and supporting documentation to satisfy the court.
Perhaps most notably, our researchers were able to identify additional heirs closer in consanguinity to the decedent, rendering the heir hunter’s services unnecessary and void. We’re proud that our team’s dedication to uncovering the truth helped ensure that the rightful heirs received their fair share of the five-million-dollar estate.
Do you need HeirSearch’s help establishing heirship, clearing title in a property matter, or closing a trust? If you are an attorney faced with any of these challenges, HeirSearch is here to help.
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Disclaimer: Although accurate in scope, all identifying information such as names, dates and locations have been changed in order to protect the privacy of individuals.
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