Wondering what a Heir Search or Estate Settlement might be?
Heir research or probate research is usually performed at times when someone dies without a will, although there are times when someone dies with a will, but the probate laws of the State require that all known heirs of the deceased be identified.
Whether or not heir research is required is determined by the Probate Laws of the State.
In these states, living heirs must prove their right to an inheritance. During the heir research process, a professional genealogist usually conducts the heir research. This genealogist creates the family tree, retrieves necessary documents to prove the relationship of each member in the tree, and prepares an affidavit report of the findings.
This report is usually presented to the Court as evidence.
Table of Contents
- 1 Types of Heir Hunters?
- 2 Is Probate Research Firms the Same as Heir Hunter Companies?
- 3 Can Anyone Complete an Heir Search?
- 4 Does Forensic Genealogy Play a Role in Finding Missing Heirs?
- 5 What are the Credential Requirements for an Heir Searcher?
- 6 What to Expect with Record Click’s Heir Search Service?
Types of Heir Hunters?
Heir Hunting is a specialty area of professional genealogy. (I do not know that there are “types” of heir hunters.) These professional genealogists specialize in locating unknown, lost, or missing heirs to an estate.
They are also known to contract with life insurance companies to locate the beneficiaries of unclaimed funds. This type of research not only requires professional genealogy skills, but also requires one to have very good detective skills.
Is Probate Research Firms the Same as Heir Hunter Companies?
There are many, many professional genealogists out there who perform probate research. Record Click genealogists are among them. But we do not consider ourselves as heir hunter.
In our mind, probate research has a focus on creating the family tree and proving that the tree is correct with several supporting documents in evidence on each person in the tree.
In all of the heir research cases that we have worked on, it has not been difficult to locate the living heirs and obtain their addresses and phone numbers. The attorney involved will usually tell the researcher ahead of time what relationship is being sought
Such as “Find all of the first cousins.” And the attorney will specify if he/she wants cousins who are “once removed” or not.
If we had a situation where we had a name of a living heir, but no current address or phone number, and the remaining living heirs could only tell me that the person took off many years ago, and they haven’t heard from him since – well, that is when the services of an heir hunter would be consulted.
Can Anyone Complete an Heir Search?
Anyone can complete an heir search, but in most cases, their findings won’t be accepted by the court. There is no concrete standard of what qualifies someone to perform probate research as a professional genealogist.
In the USA, this decision rests with the Probate Judge of the specific case that is being researched. In every case we have worked, the Judge has requested a copy of the genealogist’s resume.
In some cases, we are required to testify as to our findings, but before the questions about my findings, our genealogist can be drilled with questions from both attorneys about education and experience in genealogy research.
At the end of the question period about expertise, normally neither attorney object, and the Judge declares our genealogist as an expert in probate research. So, as mentioned earlier, anyone can complete an heir search, but that won’t get you approved by the Court.
Does Forensic Genealogy Play a Role in Finding Missing Heirs?
Forensic genealogy is a study of family history that goes beyond what is provided on records. It uses DNA and photos to bring science into the research. But beyond that, it is not an area of genealogy that some have worked with.
What are the Credential Requirements for an Heir Searcher?
As mentioned above, anyone can be an heir searcher. There are no established credentials in the USA for an heir researcher who will be approved by the Courts. Credentials for professional genealogists have been set by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.org/).
Certification is based on the submission of research and case studies over a period of several months. Another organization that provides credentials for genealogists is The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (https://www.icapgen.org/).
Accreditation is based on the submission of research projects, written exam, and oral review. Neither of these types of credentials require any type of formal education in genealogy.
A third type of credential is the Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (http://www.genealogicalstudies.com/).
There are colleges that also offer their own genealogy studies programs, and these colleges also offer professional certificates. The PLCGS program at the NIGS is education-based and requires the completion of 40 courses of genealogy studies.
As this is the program that many genealogist complete, we know that this credential has been accepted by the Courts. It is our believe that those with the CG (Certified Genealogist) and AG (Accredited Genealogist) have also been known to be approved by the Courts.
What to Expect with Record Click’s Heir Search Service?
Record Click’s heir researcher work with and assist the Probate Attorney in finding the heirs to an estate. We document the evidence to validate the heirs to an estate and provide the attorney with the documents they need.
We can help when the estate beneficiaries are not known, need to be located, or when proof of the relationship is needed. Record Click provides a simple hourly rate and does not expect or require a percentage of the estate.
Record Click has experienced, credentialed researchers who are all over the USA, including in Salt Lake City, UT and the world-famous Family History Library. Our researchers also have access to the constantly growing world of subscription internet services.
At the completion of your research, your report and all of your documents will be provided to you in an attractive binder.
We can customizes your heir search for the genealogical research you need, for your time frame, and for your budget. Contact us today to get started.