Who Are Probate Genealogy Researchers

Probate Genealogy Researchers, often referred to as a forensic genealogists, use a combination of research skills and various resources to locate heirs to estates. Here are the steps and methods they typically employ:

Initial Information Gathering:

Initiating the process, the Probate Genealogy Researcher delves into the available probate records. This step is crucial as it provides the basic information about the deceased, including their full name, date of birth, date of death, and last known residence.

Family Documents: The examination of any existing family documents, wills, and personal letters is a significant step. These documents often hold personal and intimate details that can provide valuable clues about potential heirs, adding a personal touch to the search process.

Genealogical Research:

    • Vital Records: Access birth, marriage, and death records to build a family tree. These records help identify potential heirs based on familial connections.
    • Census Records: The use of census data is a fascinating aspect of probate genealogy. It allows us to track the family’s history, locations, and changes over time, providing a rich and detailed picture of the family’s past.
    • Obituaries: Search for obituaries which often list surviving relatives and can provide leads on heirs.

    Public and Historical Records:

      • Land and Property Records: Investigate property ownership records which may reveal family connections and potential heirs.
      • Military Records: Look into military service records for information on family members.
      • Church and Cemetery Records: Church baptism, marriage, and burial records, as well as cemetery records, can provide important genealogical information.

      Online Databases and Tools:

      • Genealogy Websites: Use online genealogy platforms such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and MyHeritage to access a wide range of records.
      • Social Media: Use social media and online networks to locate and contact potential heirs.

        Interviews and Outreach:

        • Contacting Relatives: Contact known relatives and family members who may have additional information or can confirm the identities of potential heirs.
        • Public Notices: Publish notices in newspapers and online to invite heirs to come forward.

          Legal and Professional Resources:

            • Hiring Private Investigators: In some cases, private investigators will be employed to locate and verify the identities of heirs.
            • Collaborating with Attorneys: Work with probate attorneys who may have additional resources and expertise in handling estate claims.

            DNA Testing:

              • Genetic Genealogy: DNA testing confirms relationships and traces unknown family lines. It can be beneficial in cases where paper records are insufficient.

              Each of these steps involves meticulous research and verification to ensure the correct heirs are identified. Probate Genealogy Researchers must also adhere to legal and ethical standards, particularly in handling sensitive information and obtaining consent for DNA testing.