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Parentesco” is measured in degrees (grados), where each generation counts as one degree. Along the straight lines the “distance” between two members of a family is simply counted as the number of generations between them. For example, a father and his child are one degree apart, and a grand father and his grand child are two degrees apart).

In the collateral lines, the distance between two relatives is counted as the sum of the generations that separates each from their common ancestor. For example, a brother and a sister are two degrees apart, one from the brother to their parents and another degree from the parents to the sister. Between an uncle and his nephew there are three degrees of separation: one degree up between the uncle and his parents and two more degrees between them and his nephew.

This scheme is used, among other things, to determine heirs and the distribution of inheritance. This makes wills and related documents very valuable in genealogical research. In this article, Mariano Nájeraurriola, Esq., explains how this is used in the determination of contested wills and non-assigned inheritance[i].

This systems comes from antiquity[ii] and it has been instituted in law in Puerto Rico[i], Mexico[iii], Argentina[iv], Chile[v] and many other Latin American countries.

Below you'll find two tables that should help to illustrate this system.

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