Maybe, just maybe, by our work as Genealogists we can delay the Third Death just a while longer for someone.
A gentleman passes away, intestate, in Connecticut. His attorney that he used for real estate purposes offers to handle the probate estate. He has no knowledge of any of the deceased's family members.
Two days after the estate is opened the attorney is visited by a person who identifies himself as the decedent's Second Cousin and also states he is the family genealogist. He states that the deceased was predeceased by his parents, had no siblings, never married and had no children. The Family Genealogists also claims there are no First Cousins, but that there are twelve additional Second Cousins. He then gives the attorney three large boxes with unorganized papers to prove his claims and leaves.
I was called in to go through the documents and verify the claims. After my initial examination I found a mistake the Family Genealogist made in his research. I went through everything a second time to be sure, then went through all the documents again with the attorney. We had found proof that one of the Second Cousins was actually a First Cousin Once Removed. In this situation in Connecticut the First Cousin Once Removed was the closest living relative and inherited the entire estate. It was a simple mistake that many amateur genealogists make.
By the way, the First Cousin Once Removed was the Family Genealogist.
"To my oldest surviving maternal female cousin, I give and bequeath our Grandmother's dishes"
As part of her will a woman had left her Grandmother's dinnerware (that were actually quite valuable) to the Oldest Living Female Maternal Cousin. When the attorney contacted the family he found that there were fourteen living female maternal first cousins scattered across the United States. The problem came about when none of them wanted to give up their birth dates and each claimed the other was older! I was brought in to determine and prove who was the oldest. After researching and obtaining each one's birth record I was able to determine (and prove) who was the oldest.
She was not happy.
But she took the dishes!
One of the perks of my job is when I am out in the field and I run into the most interesting things. Even celebrities! Or at least their headstones.
While doing research on Martha's Vineyard I learned the John Belushi was buried in a small cemetery there. One of my favorite comedians and comic actors. "Saturday Night Live"," Animal House" and my favorite "Continental Divide" (Belushi could have been the next Spencer Tracy in that film).
Tucked off to the side of the cemetery with room for a small party and a bench for sitting and remembering his talent!!