We have had interesting successes over the years, and would like to share some of them with you. Please note that some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the heirs.
A Milwaukee woman who passed away left an estate. One of her four children could not be found. This son had been born and raised on Milwaukee's south side and had graduated from Pulaski High School. He was about 65, but had not been heard from for over ten years. His siblings did not know where he was, and his daughter had unsuccessfully tried to find him by posting inquiries on the Internet.
This man was entitled to one-fifth of his mother's estate under her 1965 will. Once her estate opened, it was discovered that the missing man was also entitled to a share of his uncle's estate.
We discovered he had been living in Poland. Articles showed he was a successful consultant, speaking and writing fluent Polish, and advising Polish politicians about American politics. We made sure he received both of his inheritances.
A long-time career woman died leaving an estate just short of one million dollars. She had no children or close family members. She left a will, but it was so old that all the named beneficiaries had passed away. In the absence of close relatives or an effective will, more distant relatives were entitled to inherit.
A cousin petitioned for probate, and about 20 heirs (cousins and the children of cousins) were brought forward to inherit.
We double-checked the information filed, and discovered that in the 1930's, one of the decedent's uncles had left the Midwest, moving to Los Angeles to work as a dairy farmer. In California, he had a brief marriage to a woman from Holland, and one child, Walter, survived from that marriage. The dairy farmer died when Walter was three years old.
Walter was raised by his stepfather. However, he had never been legally adopted. Therefore, he was entitled to inherit from the estate of his cousin. Walter had not been included in the original list of cousins claiming the estate. He had been left out.
We located him and proved his rights. He inherited over $140,000.
We searched for the owner of an abandoned cash account held by the state. Although the woman had been born in the United States, she seemed to have disappeared into thin air. We performed a genealogy search and identified her sister, who informed us that the missing woman was a nun living in an impoverished, remote area of Brazil.
Once found, the 80-year-old nun asked that we deliver her assets to her congregation of religious sisters, while she continued her ministry in rural Brazil.
Donald, a solitary scientist, passed away in a small Midwestern city. Donald did not leave a will and had no known relatives. A neighbor friend filed for probate of his assets, and we started looking for his heirs.
We located possible heirs in his mother's large Kentucky family, but we needed to determine who Donald's father was, and whether there were any relatives closer than the cousins on his mother's side.
Our research showed that Donald's mother had a short marriage in California to a publishing agent. She accompanied her husband when his publishing house posted him to Shanghai, China. Oddly, we found passenger arrival lists showing that the husband returned to the United States alone, almost a year before Donald's mother returned. She returned only seven months before she gave birth to Donald. Because of the timing, it was impossible for her husband to have been the father of her child.
We learned that within a year of Donald's birth, his mother's husband successfully sued her for divorce. Unusually, he also obtained an order to have his name removed from Donald's birth record because of the evidence that he could not have been Donald's father. Donald was raised using his mother's maiden surname.
In official records, Donald's mother refused to reveal the name of the father. We discovered that in letters to family members she had conceded that because she had been "denied motherhood by her husband," she would be "cheated out of life no longer." She had developed a relationship with a friend in China, a man of "standing, reputation and character," in order to become a mother.
His mother's Kentucky relatives told us that Donald's real father had met him every summer in a New York City hotel. When we interviewed Donald's neighbor friend, he said he had know Donald for many years, including Donald's last years, when his memory had faded. Donald told the friend that he had seen his father frequently growing up, that his father had gone to a renowned university law school, and that his father had been a successful lawyer.
As they grew closer, the neighbor pressed Donald for more information about his biological father. At first, Donald could not remember his father's name, but eventually gave his neighbor a surname.
We started researching historical documents about Shanghai in the 1920's and discovered a prominent prosecutor associated with the United States embassy who had a surname very similar to the one provided by Donald to the neighbor. Researching this attorney further, we learned that he had graduated from the university named by Donald. As a prosecutor in China, he tried high-profile opium smuggling cases.
We discovered that this prominent lawyer had a brief marriage in the 1940's, and that the marriage had produced a son. If our hunch was correct, the attorney was Donald's father, and this son was a half-brother to Donald.
We located the purported half-brother. He had no knowledge of Donald, and had never heard that his father had another son. We arranged to represent him, and he agreed to take a DNA test by cheek swab.
His DNA was compared to Donald's, and in a few weeks we had our answer. The probability was 99.97 percent that he was Donald's brother. We presented the results to court officials, and our client, the half-brother, inherited Donald's estate.