On May 4th, I became a first cousin, twice-removed. I know. It’s not quite as glamorous as becoming a mom or a grandmother, but that’s what it is. First cousin, twice-removed. Basically, my father’s sister became a great-grandmother for the first time.
Ancestry. MyHeritage. Archives. FamilySearch. The world of online genealogical research has exploded recently. Using these tools, I was able to determine that I’m a direct descendant of Susannah North Martin, one of the women hung for being a witch in Salem in 1692. If you’ve done any research into your own family tree, I’d love to know what you’ve found. Let us know in the comments some of the cool things you’ve discovered about your own heritage.
Even with all these tools at our disposal, it still seems like we only know our relation to our immediate and near relatives. Most people know relations in direct descent, or out to cousins, but after that we all seem to get lost. That’s where “Degrees of Kindred” come in.
Why should you care? Three reasons.
1) Be the Super-Geek in the family! You’ll be the only one at the family reunion picnic who actually knows that your great-grandmother’s grandchild and your cousin’s children are all first cousins, once-removed. It’s a super cool party trick!
2) Avoid nepotism and incest. Some states have laws that prohibit benefiting (nepotism) or marrying (incest) a relative who is too close in relation. There are also medical reasons to not have children with family relatives that are “too close” in degree. Just look at the instances of haemophilia among the descendants of Queen Victoria if you want a prime example of why marrying too close a relative is a really bad idea.
For most though, this just means knowing who are your cousin and such, but you never know. You can read more about Marriage Prohibition Acts HERE. I don’t know about you, but even though it’s not prohibited, I’d be a little creeped out to find out my spouse was really my third cousin.
3) Know who’ll inherit your stuff if you don’t have a Will or Trust. If you die without a Will, or “intestate” as we lawyers like to say, your assets will pass to your nearest living relatives according to Degrees of Kindred. For many people, this might be exactly what you want – although many people are shocked to find out that if they have a spouse and kids, or step-kids, the spouse may have to share an inheritance with those children. Yes, even the step-children!
And even if you have a Will to state exactly who should inherit how much and when, that doesn’t avoid having to deal with the probate courts. A Will merely tells the Court what to do with your stuff, it doesn’t eliminate the need for the process. And in that process people have a legal right to be notified. Guess who? Your nearest living relatives according to the Degrees of Kindred!
Want to know more about exactly who will inherit your stuff if you die without a Will? Better yet, want to avoid the whole mess and decide for yourself who should inherit your stuff? Grab a time that we can hop on the phone for a chat, and we’ll hash out all your Legal Stuff with you. CLICK HERE to apply for a complimentary Strategy Session NOW.