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Forensic Estate Casework FAQ
How much does it cost and how long will it take to trace the heirs of any given line?

In our experience, blood relatives can be traced in as little as a couple of days to several months; though, these timelines can vary significantly, depending upon the trouble in locating some or all of them. Costs can also vary widely depending on the search strategies needed to meet the client’s objectives.

If we don’t want a full-blown heir search, but rather only some civil vital records or other documents extracted for our own investigation, do we need to pay retainers?

No, and most of those types of searches can be conducted fairly quickly. Although some repositories and government agencies are very slow in processing requests for documents, most respond within a couple of weeks. In these cases, we ask for a 50% deposit up-front on the quote given to you.

Our firm is working on an estate case and we don’t really want to conduct Time & Expense fee arrangements. Can we work on some sort of contingency arrangement: if the heirs are not found, there is no fee?

Most definitely. This would be our Contingency Finder’s Fee option, which you can find more details under Professional Research Fees. This option is particularly useful when you have known heirs already and don’t want to burden their entitlements with fees to locate other branches of the family.

We have an urgent case that needs research done now. We cannot wait weeks or months for results. Can you do it?

Please contact us promptly. We will see what we can do. Normally, we can expedite the case ahead of our other work schedule, though you may still have to wait for response times from outside parties during an investigation. Those factors are out of our control. Normally, however, we can push through some, if not all, of the research to help alleviate your urgency problem. Note that you will have higher fees for doing this as it takes away from others on the work list. Remember, though, that all forensic cases receive priority (to one degree or another) when we take on the case.

What is a genealogical DNA test?

A genealogical DNA test is a DNA-based test used in genetic genealogy that looks at specific locations of a person’s genome in order to find or verify ancestral genealogical relationships, or (with lower reliability) to estimate the ethnic mixture of an individual. Since different testing companies use different ethnic reference groups and different matching algorithms, ethnicity estimates for an individual vary between tests, sometimes dramatically. Three principal types of genealogical DNA tests are available, with each looking at a different part of the genome and being useful for different types of genealogical research: autosomal (atDNA), mitochondrial (mtDNA), and Y-DNA.