cases: examples of our work

Genealogical forensics

Home       Services       Resources       Publications      Cases       Fees       Pro Bono      About Us       Links & Tools       Contact

  1. Bullet Due Diligence: Background Unknown

When Laura Gross died testate in 2008, nothing was known about her except her birth date in 1914, birthplace of Austria (exact location unknown), and the name of her late husband. Her maiden name and her parents’ names were unknown. She had had no children. The friend who was to inherit her estate said that Ms. Gross refused to speak about her past. There was, we discovered, a compellling reason for that.

The typical reason due diligence research is required to settle an estate matter in New York, even when someone dies testate (with a will), is that the person had no living spouse, children, siblings, or parents. Our challenge here was to find exactly where Ms. Gross was born, her maiden name, the names of her parents, including mother’s maiden name, and determine the whereabouts of any paternal and maternal aunts, uncles, first cousins, and, possibly, first cousins once-removed. It was also possible that she had had siblings.

We discovered that she was born in Vienna, the only child of Paul Stern and Amanda Brethower, also born in Vienna. Research in Austria, Holocaust, and other records revealed that both parents had siblings, all now deceased. One of the siblings had had issue.

Ms. Gross was a Holocaust survivor. Her parents and all but one of her paternal and maternal aunts and uncles were not.

We found living first cousins in Tel Aviv.