Forensic Genealogy & Heir Search Services

Ethical – Thorough – Efficient – Reliable


Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG

I am a Boston-Providence metropolitan area Board-certified genealogist with more than 25 years of professional genealogy experience and education.

Since 2017, I have offered forensic research services to attorneys and agencies in Massachusetts and beyond.  My experience ranges from identifying heirs for probate of estates, to quiet title actions on real estate, to finding the correct next-of-kin and DNA donors for military repatriation cases.

In all cases, I maintain the highest ethical standards, working strictly on an hourly-fee-plus-costs-basis — never on contingency — so that you, your client, and the court can have complete confidence in my research as a disinterested third party.

My forensic services include:

  • Identifying beneficiaries, legatees, missing and unknown heirs, and next-of-kin
  • Affidavits of kinship, due diligence, and research reports, always fully source-cited and with supporting exhibits
  • Family tree charts, accurately and clearly organized
  • Court testimony
  • Verification of other heir search firms’ reports

Examples of recent case successes:

  • Proved the adoption of a woman in Massachusetts during the 1940’s was legal, settling the question of whether her biological or adoptive relatives could take.  Then, identified nine heirs not mentioned by her family, nearly doubling the number of eligible distributees.
  • Identified the sole living distributee who required notice for an estate left to a Massachusetts decedent’s four siblings in 1909.
  • Used immigration and military service papers to prove that a recent Massachusetts decedent’s Italian grandfather fled the draft during World War I, and started a second family in New York City during the 1920’s.  Then, identified his two previously unknown children who were still living and eligible to take.
  • Traced the family of a recent African-American decedent, born in South Carolina during the 1930’s, through migration to Virginia, New Jersey, and New York City, to successfully identify his sole living nephew.
  • On behalf of the U.S. Army, identified the next of kin and eligible DNA donors in the family of a Bristol County, Massachusetts, World War II soldier whose remains were not fully accounted for during the war, in support of the U.S. Army’s mission to repatriate remains from past conflicts.  Provided similar research for more than 80 other soldiers’ cases nationwide since 2017.

Whether you’re a probate, real estate, elder law, or intellectual property attorney, or the representative of a local, state, military or law enforcement agency, or title insurance company, there are many ways I can support your work, for example:

  • Probate — I conduct thorough genealogical research into a decedent’s family to identify lineal and other descendants, so that you can provide notice to relatives and give an accurate accounting of legal next-of-kin to the court.
  • Guardianship/Conservatorship — I identify next-of-kin who can help care for your client and their estate, as well as identify parents for completing death certificates, and other research related to establishing identity and family as needed.
  • Quiet title and adverse possession of property — I search probate and other records to trace inheritance over time, in order to identify those with a current legal interest in a property.
  • Abandoned property — I perform genealogical research to identify who the rightful owners are today.
  • Copyright — I trace the deceased copyright holder’s descendants, to help you contact those who have inherited active rights.
  • Unclaimed persons and unidentified persons — I perform genealogical research, including interpreting DNA profiles, to assist in identification of remains and their return to appropriate next-of-kin.
  • Military repatriation — I reconstruct a soldier’s immediate family, then work forward through historical records to identify eligible DNA donors to assist in identification of remains, then identify the legal next of kin to whom they may be returned.

I am an active member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and have signed its Code of Ethics.  I work according to the Genealogical Proof Standard and the genealogy standards published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

I currently serve as the Vice President and Program Chair for the Forensic Genealogy Special Interest Group of the Association of Pofessional Genealogists (2019-2021).

My relevant education includes the Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy program at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (2018), a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University (2016), and a Master of Library Science with archives concentration from the University of Maryland at College Park.  I served as Course Facilitator for the “Genealogy Principles” course at Boston University in the Fall 2018 term.

Please contact me to inquire about your project.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Association of Professional Genealogists member logoCAFG logo