Proving entitlement in an intestacy

The firm I work at has an intestate estate and we have instructed genealogists who have identified two possible families who may be entitled and as a result of this I am posting this enquiry.

The deceased is Miss C. She never married and had no children. She was also an only child.

There are no descendants on the maternal side.

Miss C’s father is Mr T who was born in 1912. He died before Miss C. On Mr T’s birth certificate his father is shown to be Mr T (senior) and his mother is Mrs T. At the time of Mr T’s birth Mr T (senior) resided in an asylum. Records indicate he had been in the asylum for at least a year before Mr C’s birth. Records for 1911 show that Mrs T was living in a house with her two oldest children and a boarder called Mr C. After Mr T (senior) died Mrs T married Mr C. In Mr C’s will he describes Miss C’s father as one of his sons.

So the paperwork shows that Miss C’s father as per his birth certificate is Mr T (senior) but it is thought likely that it was in fact Mr C who is the father of Miss C’s father.

The coroner luckily for us holds tissue samples so we might be able to prove the blood relations using DNA tests.

Is it the correct approach to prove blood relations by DNA or do you have to rely on the paperwork proof which shows it is the family of Mr T (senior) who are entitled?

Jenny Walker
Driver Belcher Solicitors

The relationship statement on the birth certificate would normally be regarded as primary information which directly answers the question - who was the father of the individual in question?

But any single record might mislead and a sound genealogical conclusion can only be arrived at after carefully considering all of the available evidence and weighing that evidence in concert. DNA is, in effect, a repository of information and, when relevant samples are available, DNA testing is increasingly becoming a vital tool in seeking to resolve genealogical questions in situations such as this. So, very arguably, the genealogical - and presumably the legal - proof standard requires DNA evidence if a sample is available to be tested.

Philip Turvey
Anglia Research Services

Did Mr C refer in similar terms to the 2 older children, alive at the
time of Mr T(senior)`s death. If so, then the reference to Mr T as his
son may merely be an “honorary” reference.

If Mr T is the child of Mr C, though, then will he have been legitimated
by the subsequent marriage of Mr C and Mrs T?

I recall there may have been a recent change in English law, reversing
the block on legitimately of a child in such circumstances, so it may be
any other children of Mr C and Mrs T (or their descendants) will be
entitled to the exclusion of the children of Mr T(senior).

However, if My T cannot be legitimized, then all children of Mrs T will
be siblings of the half blood and entitled to benefit.

If there was no issue of Mr C and Mrs T, then the 2 older children will
inherit, regardless of Mr T 's paternity, so the question only arises if
there is issue of Mr C and Mrs T.

Whilst I believe one must look to the paperwork in the first instance,
if this is challenged or inconsistent with other “facts” the position
may be investigated with the agreement of those entitled on the basis of
the paperwork. If you proceed with the investigations without their
consent, and merely confirm the veracity of the paperwork, they may well
look to you to pay the cost of the investigations yourself.

Probably better to encourage the parties to discuss to see if they can
agree a strategy, rather than go straight to DNA testing, Tec., which
nay satisfy no one.

Paul Saunders

Just a thought, but have you considered who is your client?

Does he/she understand that he/she may be personably responsible for all
costs incurred? Even [or especially] if it turns out that the inheritance
passes elsewhere, so there never was any right to administer the estate …

Kevin Mullen