Spinning Plates: The Strategy Partner You’ve Been Missing

By Jacqueline Tritsch, CG | Lead Forensic Researcher | Legacy Tree Genealogists

February 15, 2021

Spinning Plates: The Strategy Partner You’ve Been Missing


By Jacqueline Tritsch, CG | Lead Forensic Researcher | Legacy Tree Genealogists

Tracing missing heirs can be a juggling act, with you at the center, keeping the plates spinning. The job of a probate, or forensic, genealogist, is to save you time and money while ensuring that you and your client are protected from the unforeseen consequences of poor research. Forensic genealogists provide independent and unbiased expert testimony detailing the results of diligent search for heirs in alignment with applicable intestate succession statutes. The results are generally presented in the form of a written affidavit; however, we at Legacy Tree Genealogists, are happy to provide testimony in person, should that be necessary. 

A forensic genealogist is different from a Private Investigator—we bring the whole package. Private investigators typically rely only on social tracing alone. We employ a strategic synergy of traditional genealogical research techniques combined with modern social tracing. Missing beneficiaries may often be found by identifying and locating extended family members and friends. 

Focus on What Matters 

Working with a probate researcher allows you to focus on your client while we expertly sort through the millions of records held in online databases, in person, and on microfilm at libraries, federal and state repositories, county courthouses, and more. We use historical records, newspapers, social media sites, professional tracking sites, and more to ensure a diligent search has been completed. 

 When questions arise about the identities of potential heirs at law, or questions regarding the validity or completeness of a list of heirs at law, we take those spinning plates off your hands and return with the information you need. 

You are important to us. Each client receives a dedicated project manager to manage your projects and full your needs. This allows us to build a personal relationship with you and your team. This also lets us learn your preferences over time and learn to anticipate your needs. 

Work Side-by-Side 

An experienced forensic genealogist will share results throughout the research process, including contact information for living heirs at law, allowing us to work the case at the same time—a partnership. You don’t need to wait for us to be finished before you can start. We encourage our clients—you—to share updates so that we can adjust our strategy accordingly, and we will always do the same for you. 

No Surprises 

A forensic researcher’s job is to uncover the surprises that lead to smashed plates, so they don’t come crashing down in court.  Whether your client is genuinely unfamiliar with the identities of extended family members, or you have that special heir who has forgotten to tell you about the existence of their siblings, our diligent and unbiased research helps you to avoid surprises. 

Go Prepared 

We make sure you have what you need for hearings. Especially now, rescheduling court hearings is directly equal to lost income. A probate researcher will make sure that you are prepared the first time, with an affidavit you judge can trust. 

Flexibility and Discretion is Key 

Make sure to find a researcher who is flexible to your needs. At Legacy Tree, we begin with a five-hour retainer to access the basic size of the line of succession line. Will we need to go out to cousins, or do siblings exist and we can stop there? Do you need research conducted only on one side of the family? From there, we plan together how to proceed and the projected costs involved. 

No project should be too small. Some projects involve locating a single missing beneficiary, and often this is successfully achieved even after private investigators have failed. We are sensitive to incapacitated living individual cases. Such cases receive priority, so that family members can be found as soon as possible.  

We work discretely. We at Legacy Tree Genealogists maintain our unbiased objectivity by working silently in the background. We do not release findings to anyone other than our clients or contact potential heirs at law unless our client expressly directs us to do so.  

Whatever your research needs, our probate researchers at Legacy Tree Genealogists have the record access and necessary skills to build the family tree of a decedent relative and then trace the living descendants who may ultimately inherit from an estate. We also have an advanced genetic genealogy (DNA) team to aid in research issues such as unknown parentage. Feel comfortable passing us your spinning plates—we’ve got your back. 

As a probate research firm, our forensic genealogists are experienced at providing expert genealogical research, analysis and reporting for legal proceedings involving kinship. If you need help identifying potential heirs, visit https://legacytree.com/forensic and we can help evaluate your specific circumstances and identify how we can be of assistance. 

Six diverse people sitting holding signs
gradient circle (purple) gradient circle (green)


My NYSBA Account

My NYSBA Account