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The business of genealogy research

Who is involved in researching family histories and what are the commercial benefits?

Tracing one’s family history and ancestry is a special topic that is interesting to every clan from any generation. It is intriguing, enlightening, and exhilarating to figure out a family’s origin. Beyond an individual’s personal sentimentality towards this thriving subject, tracking down lineages and uncovering genealogical information produced an organised system and discipline called genealogy. Derived from two Greek words, “genea” meaning generation, and “logia” which means science, genealogy has been in existence since ancient times through oral and written practices. When societies learnt the importance of citizen registration and statistics, this created a convenient record system for genealogy researchers, both professional and amateur, to collect historical information. The field has helped establish identities of individuals, families, and groups that also contributed in helping to create rules and laws to protect their interests. Assets such as properties, investments, and bank accounts are prime examples of interests that have economic value. These are mentioned in a will, a legal document, describing the owner’s wishes on the distribution of the assets upon his or her death. Genealogy research is helpful in this matter when presenting facts about a person’s identity.

Genealogy research gained advantages as technology further developed, heightening its popularity on the internet. This paved the way for more curious families to conduct their own personal research to fill out their family tree, or hire the services of a professional genealogy research organisation for more serious reasons such as finding a long-lost relative, identifying heirs to an asset and other legal matters. The commercial benefits of genealogy research not only helps families but supports an entire industry that is composed of professional individuals who specialise and address specific areas of concern especially when it comes to estate genealogy and historical research.

Who is commonly involved in genealogy research?

Hiring a professional genealogy research organisation means that you have deemed that the project is not merely to satisfy a personal inquiry, but an interest that involves a serious and deep research process. For example, in intestacy entitlement, genealogy researchers are tasked to find and identify an entitled beneficiary when a family member dies without an heir to a will. Through genealogy research, solicitors and trustees benefit in the process. A solicitor is a legal practitioner who represents and protects the interest of a client. A trustee, on the other hand, is any person who is also assigned to protect the interest of a trust or will. There are common cases where a beneficiary is missing or needs a proof of kinship. Australia has roughly around $1.5 billion worth of unclaimed assets from shares and inheritances. Some may not be aware that they are entitled to an asset, which can get complicated when this scenario happens.  Solicitors and trustees don’t necessarily need to carry out the legwork of finding or locating the beneficiary but instead they hire a dependable genealogy researcher or organisation to fulfil the task. Genealogy research organisations have greater advantage since they have the tools and resources to manage and carry out a complex research project. Some of their services include kinship proofs and family tree verification. Companies also benefit from genealogy research when they need to present a milestone of their business or trace the history of a property for purchase. Communities and groups can also turn to this field for their historical biography and build their archives.

What tools are used in genealogy research?

Through oral and written history dating back since biblical times, the evidence and tools used in genealogy research have developed over time. The genealogies of the biblical characters like Adam, Noah and Abraham are considered important and factual in many religious societies. Written records, on the other hand, were developed in Greece and Rome as part of their history and through poems and other forms of literature. Historical evidence in modern genealogy research include national registry database or census, photographs, letters, birth and marriage certificates, and other personal family artefacts. In 1984, DNA testing or profiling was discovered, which also became a tool for tracing a person’s genealogical background. As the internet became available and digital technology progressed, genealogy websites, softwares and apps became accessible to everyone. One example of a website that helps clients with searching for their unclaimed assets is Social media is another platform that is helpful to genealogy research when connecting with or looking for long-lost family members and relatives.

What other areas of concern are involved in genealogy research?

 Legal, medical, and forensic research

 As mentioned earlier, legal matters pertaining to estate and intestacy entitlement is one of the most common reasons why genealogy research is important. Family tree verification is possible especially when a missing or unknown family member or relative needs to be contacted. Forensics also rely on this field of research to help victims and draw up evidence against individuals involved in a crime. Families with unknown medical conditions can turn to genealogy research to help detect hereditary diseases.

Academic research

 Since genealogy is recognised as a professional and academic discipline, scholars of history and genetics also practice genealogy research to publish legitimate journals, books, and articles related to their field of study. Digitised copies of books, newspapers and other scholarly materials that rely on genealogy research easily became accessible that resulted in preserving past records.

Personal interest

 Personal interest still relates to all the other areas of concern whether it be for legal or medical matters. As genealogy research entered popular culture through thousands of genealogy websites, online family tree databases and other similar platforms, families, communities, and groups also benefit from this field to keep a record of their own family trees and histories as a valuable possession. Families upload old and new photos on the internet to create online maps and family tree databases for preservation and to build a network. Amateur genealogists usually work within their own family history. Surprising facts can be learned when uncovering lost family histories.

With the help of digital technology, genealogy research has branched-out from a discipline limited to scholarly, medical, and legal research to being enjoyed by individuals who want to discover their ancestry. We can agree that genealogy research can be practised by everyone, which could later turn into a serious profession for an enthusiast. Its commercialisation further extended its importance with various purposes to companies and communities.

Overall, genealogy research has its many great benefits especially with resolving larger legal family estate issues that will inevitably happen in time. Having a reliable genealogy research organisation will help ease the process for solicitors, trustees and companies in fulfilling their duties. How do you find one? Look for a company that has an extensive network with dependable teams to carry out the research. They practice privacy and discretion when gathering sensitive information. Lastly, they are equipped with the right tools, resources, and knowledge to comply with state and national legislations and regulations on unclaimed assets.


Do you need probate genealogy research support?

Worthington Clark is a boutique family-owned and operated professional genealogy and asset research firm in Sydney with over 40 years of specialist experience in genealogy research for lawyers, trustees, companies, executors, and beneficiaries. Request a quote for genealogy research services today.

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