Every year, millions of people die worldwide without making a will (called dying intestate), often leaving substantial cash and property estates which, if not claimed, goes to the state. Worth billions, this provides vast income opportunities for genealogists who trace missing beneficiaries to these valuable estates.
Heir tracing is the business of seeking living descendant relatives who often have lost touch with their distant kin and, in most cases, have no idea of their family link. Many professional genealogists also are heir hunters, also known as probate researchers. Heir hunters are the ones who start with the information of a wealthy deceased person and then find the previously-unknown relatives who stand to inherit the estate.
In return, the heir hunter charges a percentage of the inherited wealth, typically 30%, 40%, or more. For some, heir hunting has turned out to be a lucrative business, paying much, much more than traditional genealogy research. Vadim Tevelev is one such heir hunter.
Vadim Tevelev specializes in searching Eastern Europe for the long-lost relatives of people who died without wills in New York City and in other parts of the United States. Presently, he’s working on behalf of a Russian-born New Jersey woman to win her part of an $8 million fortune left behind by Isaac Kramer, a Crown Heights, Brooklyn, lawyer who died in 2008 at the age of 94. But several estate lawyers and genealogy experts have said that the family trees and genealogical records that Tevelev submits as proof of kinship are not always rooted in reality.
You can read the full story in a story by James Fanelli in the (New York) Daily News at: http://nydn.us/2qj1ri3.