Success Stories

Overcoming Familial Estrangement Through Forensic Genealogy

HeirSearch’s investigative expertise is put to test by reconstructing an estranged family tree.

When Jenny Airedale passed away, the Special Needs Trust to which she was the sole beneficiary needed to be terminated. Terminating the trust was complicated by the following facts:

  • Jenny’s family was estranged from one another;
  • The necessary genealogical records for Jenny’s family were incomplete or missing due to a lack of records for African Americans during the early 1900s.

As the trustee of Jenny’s estate, a bank in Michigan retained HeirSearch to identify, locate, prove, and report Jenny’s Level 1 heirs, including her parents, siblings, and their respective issues.

At the outset, our researchers did not have much to work with as the only documentation the trustee was able to provide was a copy of Jenny’s Certificate of Death.

Our researchers’ initial investigation identified several members of Jenny’s family whose identities we were able to verify. Further to our telephone interviews with those living individuals, we were able to connect with much of Jenny’s family. Subsequently, we were able to piece together much of the Airedale family tree with the genealogical knowledge we obtained. Any remaining gaps were bridged by consulting with local historical centers to locate obituaries and other records.

Our genealogical research established that Jenny had the following Level 1 heirs:

  • 11 siblings, all of whom were known to be deceased;
  • 23 nieces and nephews, 13 of whom were known to be deceased, and 10 of whom were known to be living;
  • 20 grand nieces and grand nephews, 4 of whom were known to be deceased, 16 of whom were known to be living;
  • 2 great grand nieces and great grand nephews, both of whom were known to be living.

With the Airedale family tree reconstructed and verified, an estranged family was at long last reunited and the trustee was able to terminate the trust in accordance with its policies, thus concluding HeirSearch’s work on the case.

If you are the trustee of a trust and need to establish heirship to satisfy the terms of a trust, HeirSearch can help. We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, even if you are not planning to start a search right away. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have — we look forward to connecting!

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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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