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Family tree reconstructions – When family relationships are not what they seem

Title Research reconstructs and verifies hundreds of family trees every year.  In many cases, legal professionals approach us with partially constructed family relationships that need to be validated or completed where information is missing.

Even if a family tree is presented as complete, solicitors should always ask themselves whether the information can be completely trusted given that it is likely to have been provided by the family who are appointing them.  Incorrect information could be deliberately misleading in order to further their claim against the estate, or it could simply be a case of a genuine mistake being made that the family were unaware of.

Regardless, we find that 40% of the family trees we are asked to check contain inaccuracies that would have led to an unlawful distribution of the estate.

One such case that highlights the perils of relying on unverified information was highlighted by a case where we were contacted by a member of the public who had received letters from a genealogist saying they were entitled to benefit from an estate left to them by a distant family member.

The client was not convinced of the validity of this claim and appointed us to research his family links and obtain documents to prove the claim, without having to pay the heir hunter’s excessive commission fee which was in the region of 20% of the estate value.

Our specialist researchers investigated the family tree and proved that the first cousin where the link to the family was supposed to have come from was not in fact a cousin at all.  Therefore, the family we were speaking with were not entitled to the estate.

The heir hunters who thought that they had proved entitlement had relied on indexes alone, which we do not consider to be sufficient proof of entitlement.  By undertaking a more comprehensive search, we uncovered information that saved the family a huge amount of time and effort.