Should I hire a genealogist?

This is a very common question, and the answer really depends on the complexity of the case.

If the estate is large and the facts are complex, the services of a genealogist are usually recommended. For example, if the person who died - known as the “decedent” (not to be confused with “descendant”) had a $1 million estate, is a first generation U.S. citizen, and many of the historical records necessary to prove kinship are overseas, it would be prudent to retain a genealogist specializing in the decedent’s country of origin. 

On the other hand, if the decedent was a third or fourth generation U.S. citizen, lived in New York City their entire life, and their family tree is clear, than a genealogist probably isn't necessary. It would be more cost effective for our law firm and the client to do the primary leg work in retrieving proof of kinship. 

For small, but complex estates, the decision to hire a genealogist may be less clear, but weighing the size of the estate against the cost of a genealogist can help guide the decision.