Seemingly Forged Documents Linked to Heir-Searching Genealogist

Isaac Kramer, a Crown Heights lawyer who died in 2008, leaving behind an $8 million fortune and no known will.

Searching for estate heirs is a big business. I have friends that have earned their living searching records in hopes of locating heirs to estates. Some of these cases are relatively new – with the researchers working for firms that specialize in this type of work. Other searches are for heirs in what you could call “cold cases.” These are searches that have gone unsolved for years – and have potential – if one can break the case.

Genealogy firms specializing in this type of work will attempt to find heirs, then make contact with them – offering to help them get the funds – for a piece of the action. If it’s a large estate, both the heir and the research firm can make out pretty well. The genealogist who actually does the work will get a piece of the piece… I’m over-simplifying the process here, but that’s the gist of it.

Now it seems that a gentleman who’s well-known in the field and has successfully settled “more than 100 Surrogate’s Court cases” is being accused of using forged documents to prove the case.

I’d not considered this before, but in thinking about it, I can see where one of weak “moral character” might be tempted to fudge just a bit to get the search to conclude as he might want… Too bad… I really hope this is all a big mistake, but I have a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Following is an excerpt from an article by James Fanelli, posted in the May 15, 2017 New York Daily News:

“A globe-trotting genealogist has made a cottage industry out of 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.

“Vadim Tevelev says he has worked on more than 100 Surrogate’s Court cases in which he has located an heir and then helped the relative score a piece of the decedent’s estate.

“Now 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.

Read the full article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

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