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Forensic Genealogists –
Your Professional Resource

Forensic Genealogists are a valuable resource in issues with possible legal implications that involve determination of identity, kinship, legal rights, or distribution of held monies or assets.

  • Probate and estate cases – known heirs, unknown heirs, missing heirs.
  • Heirs and beneficiaries of trust and insurance accounts.
  • Due diligence affidavits.
  • Next of kin in guardianship cases, youth transitioning from foster care, adoption.
  • Capital mitigation in death sentence cases.
  • Immigration and citizenship cases.
  • Civil pension, Social Security, and veteran’s benefits.
  • Land issues involving title, adverse possession, rights of way, lis pendens, or muniment of title.
  • Oil, gas, and mineral royalties.
  • Identification and location of next of kin or DNA donors in matters involving unclaimed decedents or POW/MIA personnel repatriation.
  • Identification of next of kin prior to cemetery removals.
  • Provenance, class action claimants, intellectual property-rights.

Proven Track Records
Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy members have specialized education and training beyond that of the normal family genealogist. Members have relevant experience in research, analysis, and legal documentation. Many have appropriate advanced credentials. Advanced members are full-time professional genealogists who specialize in forensic genealogy. Junior members have substantial experience in forensic genealogy as one of their fields of concentration.

Our members strive for a work product which meets methodology standards for the field, in and out of the litigation context, and has been peer reviewed. Our members pledge to present opinions that are reasonably based on the proper types of evidence, reached through sound deductive processes, and presented in rational form. The results are testable and can be confirmed by reproducing the research path.

Forensic Genealogy is genealogical research with legal implications, usually involving living people.

Using methodology and ethics consistent with the highest standards of the profession, Forensic Genealogy is conducted by unbiased, disinterested third party practitioners with no personal or professional stake in the outcome.

A forensic genealogist is one

  • qualified through a combination of education, training and work experience
  • to be employed or retained by attorneys, law offices, estates, courts, corporations, governmental agencies or other entities
  • to perform genealogical work in legal issues as an independent third-party researcher, analyst, reporter, and witness. (1)

Member forensic genealogists do not work on ‘spec’ (speculation) or a contingency basis of proceeds paid to clients or beneficiaries. They do not ‘recruit’ beneficiaries or heirs for their own business, for other firms, or for attorneys. Members support the hourly or project-based fee structures with reasonable reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.

Contingency-based fees can cost the heirs a substantial portion of the estate. An hourly rate often leaves more of the assets for the family.

An ‘heir-searcher’ is one hired by, or an agent for, individuals or groups to pursue their rights and interests in a court of law, and usually receives payment based on a percentage of the amount recovered for the individual or groups.

(1) Copyrighted work product of Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. May not be used without attribution. May not be used in promotional material of individuals who are not members of CAFG or by businesses.