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Kinship Hearings: Establishing a Family Relationship to Settle an Estate

Settle an Estate

If a person passes away without leaving a valid will, they are said to have died intestate, and the state must determine how to administer the individual’s property. Generally, the assets are distributed to the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and/or grandchildren. If the individual did not have any close family, then distant relatives, such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or cousins, may seek to inherit the decedent’s property. Before the estate administrator can distribute assets, the claimant must prove they are the deceased person’s blood relative.

Collecting Evidence to Establish Relationship

The claimant must establish their familial relationship at a kinship hearing. During the process, the relative must present evidence proving they are related to the deceased and a rightful heir to their property.

Before attending the hearing, the claimant must gather various forms of proof showing they are a blood relative. The evidence can include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records, or genealogy records. The claimant can also demonstrate a relationship to a blood relative that both they and the decedent share, and create a family tree that clearly shows their relationship. Testimony from a disinterested witness – a close friend or neighbor who knew the decedent but is not entitled to receive their property – can also support the claimant’s assertion that they are related to the deceased.

Hearing Held Before a Judge or Referee Attorney

Depending on the county in which the case is heard, the claimant will present their evidence either in front of a judge or an attorney referee. If an attorney referee hears the case, they will issue a report to the surrogate judge who will ultimately decide whether the claimant has provided sufficient evidence to establish their relationship to the deceased.

Call The Law Office of Tamara I. Jordan P.L.L.C. for a Case Evaluation

Proving a blood relationship to a distant relative can be a complex process. That is why our attorney is dedicated to providing the representation you need as you progress through the kinship proceedings. We have over a decade of experience handling various legal matters and know how to collect and present evidence to build an effective case.


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