The Importance of Verifying a Family Tree

Probate research and the verification of intestate estates using professional firms are considered vital in France and Germany. However, in the UK, we struggle to place probate genealogy firms fairly and squarely within the estate administration process.

Without the services of a probate research firm, the estate could be distributed incorrectly. The most common issues we come across are:

  • The over-reliance on family testimony. Some solicitors accept the word of family members on who is or isn’t related to the deceased, without independent verification.
  • The overlooking of children, siblings, and half-siblings. Families often lose touch, and it can be easy for solicitors to overlook potential heirs.
  • The lack of regulation in the industry. This can make it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent firms.

There are a number of different fee models available from probate research firms, including contingency fees, estate/trust contingency fees, budget fees, and fixed fees. The most appropriate fee model will vary depending on the circumstances.

It is important to ensure that the probate research firm you choose is reputable and experienced. You should also make sure that the firm is insured against missing or unknown beneficiary claims.

Missing part of the family

We were instructed by a firm of solicitors to verify the family tree of John Sunderland*, who passed away in 2019. Initially, the solicitors provided a draft family tree that included all the known beneficiaries. On the maternal uncle’s branch, it was indicated that he had been married once and had two children.

During our research, we discovered that the uncle had actually been married twice and had an additional child from his first marriage. We reached out to one of the children from the second marriage, who knew about their half-sibling but hadn’t been in touch with them for over 40 years. We had limited information about the half-sibling’s whereabouts, but we believed she was living in the USA.

After conducting extensive research, we successfully located the half-sibling and put them in touch with their long-lost half-sibling. The family members were overjoyed to be reunited after such a long time of separation.

If you have a case similar to this or would like to speak to our team further, contact us on 020 7490 4935, email or visit our website

This article was submitted to be published by Finders International as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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