And the heir is…?

Many people die without a Last Will and Testament, but even with a Will, matters can get complicated.

For example, who inherits intellectual property?

Who inherits digital rights, copyrights, publication rights and more?

What position is a gallery owner in who has been provided with what seems to be clear title to the works or derivate works?

The recent case involving a photographer and her negatives illustrates this concern: the estate of Vivian Maier.

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Forensic Genealogy

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 Executrix if 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 the Administratrix 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, a Family 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.




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What is Paleography?

Paleography refers to the study of ancient writings and inscriptions according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary.

However, in our profession, it's much more than that. 

A Professional Genealogist regularly reads old documents such as deeds and wills, many of which are hard to see or understand due to age, lack of care, or the style of handwriting.

When we are faced with a document which needs to be made clearer, a Professional Genealogist may transcribe the document and attach the transcription to a copy of the original.

The transcription itself is usually a typed version of the original, including any spelling errors, exactly as found in the original text. When an error is found, we use [sic] to indicate that we are aware of the error, but we are being true to the original writing.

When a document is treated in this manner, the information it contains is preserved and made more accessible.

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Posted in Genealogy, Heraldry, Legal Research

Genealogy Research – Do you need help?

Genealogy ResearchGenealogy research is the study of your family history. It is a personal record of your family member history containing information such as:

  • Where they were born
  • Where they lived
  • Who their children were (who they married)
  • Where you belong in your family tree.

Learning about your family history usually starts at home by talking with relatives and recording information about your ancestors.  You would use resources such as birth certificates, obituaries, wedding announcements, a family Bible, etc.

Maybe someone in your family is already doing genealogy research work and you can assist them.

There comes a point in time where you may need the help of a professional genealogist.  These professionals understand how and where to gather information that you may not otherwise discover. A genealogy professional has resources that come from professional associations such as genealogy associations and worldwide archives.

To learn more about genealogy research, contact us, we would be happy to assist you in deciding if you need our professional genealogy research services.

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Posted in Genealogy

Local, experienced, professional

A message from Cornelia Wendell Bush, Orange County Historian, 2011-2013:

Goshen is the County Seat of Orange County, NY.

I know where Orange County records of genealogical signficance are kept, what these records consist of, the quality of evidence they represent, the relative importance of these documents, and how to develop or support an accurate research project.

My goal is to assist you in reaching your goals.

Email or call me to get started.


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