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Genealogical Justice

Although most people do not think about genealogical firms on a daily basis, what they do does affect our lives.

The work of very good genealogical firms spans a wide range of professions. They can act as excellent sources of information regarding probate and estate matters, and in some instances, they are also licensed as private investigators to facilitate research. They can alternately be family reconciliation specialists and individual rights advocates. And sometimes they can fill several, or even all, of these roles simultaneously.

In order to get a handle on just what a reputable genealogical firm does, you can ask yourself a series of "what if" questions. For example, what if you die before you get around to making out a Will? Yes, precluding any legally viable objections, many of these cases are fairly straight forward and work their way through the probate system without raising too many eyebrows.

But it isn't very difficult to imagine some detail or individual throwing a wrench into the works. What if a person dies without a Will… and had a previous marriage that may or may not have produced children? What if there were definitely children from a previous marriage, but they are deceased?

What if a person is an unknowing heir to an estate? Asking yourself two or three of this kind of questions will quickly lead you to the conclusion that there are almost unlimited variations to the transfer of wealth after death. Some of them are innocent, while others can be dubious. What if a person is an unknown beneficiary by act of law, and other beneficiaries are actively trying to conceal that person's existence?

As you can probably guess, real life deals more "what if's" than anybody can imagine. It falls to professional genealogical firms to untangle these yarns. A prime example is Morse Genealogical Services, LLC, which has many years of experience, 76 years in fact, handling cases of all sizes, ranging up to estates worth many millions.

Harvey is the 3rd generation in the company and Ari is the 4th generation in this unique family business. Recently, Ari Morse, president of Morse Genealogical Services, who works with his uncle, Harvey Morse, took some time to talk about some of their more memorable cases in recent history. He had a lot to say, not only about the work the firm does, but also about the real life personalities that exist behind our hypothetical "what if's".

One of the cases that stood out for Ari was that of a certain cousin of a particular decedent, who died unmarried and without issue. But, as happens sometimes when money is involved, certain relatives had their eyes on the prize. Three first cousins of the decedent claimed to be the sole heirs, and failed to mention in court that the decedent had a cousin on the other side.

"Within twenty four hours, of receiving the estate to research, Harvey was on the phone with the missing heir. I think he talked to her around 6pm, and her home was about four hours from our office. I didn't get to her house until late that night, and didn't leave until 2am ensuring that her questions were answered."

What did Ari need to explain to her? That she was an heir to a considerable amount of money. Ironically, the upshot for the three first cousins, who tried to negatethe existence of the 'newly-found' relative, inherited only half of what they thought they would get.

The resources available to Morse Genealogical Services made it possible for them to locate the missing relative, who was entitled to a full half of the total inheritance. And, as it happens, she was in a position where it could be well put to use. She was able to move out of her apartment and into a house. She said she was even able to help put something towards her son's school tuition.

At first it was a bit surprising that Ari would bring up this particular case when Morse Genealogical Services has had its name attached to so many more high-profile names. After all, wouldn't the famous cases be the ones they wanted to tout? But the reason becomes clear soon enough. When asked about some of the more prominent cases they've worked, at first he starts rattling off very well-known clients. Household names. Then he cuts himself short, saying, "But you know, those aren't the cases that really interest me. It's about the relationships we've built and the lives that we have helped change. There are so many better stories, and each member of our staff has their own."

And if Morse Genealogical Services places a high value on real human relationships, it only seems to be reciprocated by the other side. During his meeting with the 'missing cousin' Ari accidentally let slip that he was a golf aficionado. Since then, every now and then, a mysterious package arrives at the Morse office. Inside, golf balls. The packages marked ‘Missing Cousin’. Small acknowledgements of a little justice done.

To this day, the golf balls are kept on the credenza in Ari's office as a reminder of how genealogy continuously touches upon the interconnectedness of individuals' lives.

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2435 South Ridgewood Avenue, South Daytona, FL 32119
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