6 February 2023
Do I need a probate genealogist for a statutory will application?
As a professional deputy in Court of Protection, making provision to establish where your client’s funds will be distributed when they die is a duty of care. There may be an existing Will which is outdated, or your client’s expression of wishes may fall outside of the default intestacy law.
At Anglia Research, we research P’s next of kin and provide a verified family tree and contact details of the intestate beneficiaries to support the Statutory Will application. It is crucial that any information provided by the family is authenticated as not all the facts may have been revealed. Relying on family testimony can sometimes be flawed.
Fortunately, we can construct a full family tree from minimal information. The intricacies of probate genealogical searches can be incredibly involved. Sometimes it is more of an art than a science but always validated by documentary evidence and ruling out alternative explanations.
The Silent Art of Statutory Will Research
The starting point of any genealogical research is examining birth, death, and marriage records as well as probate material, if available. Our expert investigations begin with a marriage search for the client and any possible births from this. Illegitimate children cannot be researched unless it is a female client with an uncommon surname as the mother’s maiden name is a prerequisite for the registration of a birth. The exception to this would be a successful probate search for a Will which may refer to a child. We can, however, authenticate circumstantial rumours.
This “silent art” of Statutory Will research involves comprehensive investigation and skill in interpreting documental evidence to create the accurate family tree that is required by the Court for a Statutory Will application. This is supplemented with a genealogical report explaining the full extent of the family and the degrees of their relationship to P.
We can solve seemingly impossible tasks and have successfully traced an illegitimate child where only an estimated year of birth, region in England and the mother’s forename was known, amongst other many ‘unusual’ family scenarios.
Confidentiality is key, so no contact is made with the prospective intestate relative without express authority from the deputy. This ensures that the best interests of P are upheld and that family members do not get upset by the process. So, silence is paramount.
We assisted on a case where a Will had been written by P over 25 years ago leaving her estate to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. This was doubted by her deputies as there was no record she had any issue. But a trawl through the records identified 2 illegitimate births in her early 20’s and at least 5 grandchildren from these 2 children, the eldest of which was only born in 1993 so she must have been hopeful!
In another case, we located a half sibling of the deputy’s client when their client believed she had no relatives. She had unknowingly been adopted but it turned out it was her birth mother and her subsequent husband who had adopted her as she had been born illegitimately.
Although a record of her adoptive parent’s marriage could not be traced the adoption certificate means by intestacy law, she was considered a blood relative of her adoptive father. This case needed individual and innovative thinking and a half-brother, who was born in Germany, was discovered. The term leaving no stone unturned is very fitting for the work we conduct.
Heartwarming conclusions do ensue from cases and we recently reunited an unknown niece and nephew of P, being identified with speed, enabling them to visit their aunt before she made her exit from this life as her deputy believed this to be in her best interest. This was all completed within a couple of hours. So it is extremely rewarding to share information with clients and beneficiaries when we have permission from a deputy.
The answer to the questions is YES you do need a probate genealogist for most Statutory Will applications.
With the lead times for applications being so lengthy the services of a probate genealogist are not wasted if P should unfortunately die during the process as the intestate beneficiaries have already been identified.
Being mindful of the sensitive nature of Statutory Will research, our confidential, reliable and time saving investigations are undertaken by experienced paralegal probate genealogists. The results are presented in an easy-to-follow format which are also recognised as evidence to the Court.
Our dedicated team of professional paralegals at Anglia Research Services, providing genealogical and tracing services to law firms, are happy to provide a free quote or discuss your requirements.
Contact us now – email@example.com or call on 0800 033 4034.