Forensic Genealogy is the term used for the process of identifying Distributees and providing the documentation to the person settling the estate on behalf of the Decedent, who must file this information with the Court.

When a person dies with a Last Will and Testament, he or she is a Testator. 

The person charged with settling the estate is called the Executor if he is male, or the Executrixif she is female.

When  person dies without a Last Will and Testament, he or she is considered to have died Intestate.

The person charged with settling the estate is called the Administrator if he is male, or theAdministratrix if she is female.

In both cases, with or without a Will, we refer to the deceased person as the Decedent.

Using a New York State example, in order to settle the Decedent's estate, there is a process at the County Surrogate's Court, where the person settling the estate provides detailed information about the Decedent's closest relatives and whether or not they are living.

These living relatives are called Distributees.

When the list of Distributees has been compiled, together with documents proving relationships, aFamily Tree is then created which is a visual depiction of the relationships between the Decedent and the Distributees.

This family tree is attached to an Affidavit of Due Diligence or Affidavit of Heirship, which is the statement of facts based on the research conducted to identify these relatives. 

Documents which prove relationships may be vital records, which are the records of life events, such as birth, marriage, death, and the like.

Other documents may be used as well, especially if persons identified in the research have similar names to other persons.

The final report is then submitted to the County Surrogate's Court, and the estate process can then be completed.

Settling an estate for your family or Client? We look forward to hearing from you.