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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Ins and Outs of Probate for Genealogists - Part Seven Continued -- Sub-part Three

In my last post in this series, I started to examine the probate file of Caleb W. Haws filed in Utah County, Utah. This particular file had 62 pages of documents. As I noted in the previous post, Caleb died in 1871 in England but his probate was ultimately not concluded until 1904.

The Ins and Outs of Probate for Genealogists - Part Seven - An Example of a Simple Probate File

We now move on to the formal appointment of the administrator of the estate. In this case, the administrator is an administratrix, i.e. the wife of the deceased. 

The first document above is the Order Appointing Administratrix. The second document is the cover sheet for the Order. This document gives the wife's married name, Eliza Ann Haws and also has the date of death and another name, that of a family member. It also gives the approximate value of the estate. A genealogist will immediately see the value of all of this information. It is also important to note the date the Order was signed, July 22, 1878, more than seven years after the date of death. It is an important point that the timing of probate actions may bear little relationship to the actual date of death and a search of the probate records may need to cover many years subsequent to the date of death in the absence of an index or other finding aid.

Once the Administrator/Administratrix is appointed, then the estate must be inventoried and appraised, i.e. a value set on the contents of the estate's both real and personal property. Here is the Order Appointing Appraisers. Note in this case since the deceased died intestate the person appoint to administer the estate is called an administrator or administratrix. If there had been a will the person would have been called an executor/executrix.

All of these documents pertain to the appointment of the people who inventory and evaluate (appraise) the estate. The documents containing the actual inventory are very important because they give an insight into the property owned by the deceased and may suggest additional records that need to located and researched. In this case, nothing happened in the estate and the estate was ultimately merged into the wife's estate when she died.  See the following and note the date:

This is a deed from the Estate of Caleb W. Haws to William A. Chesley based on William A. Chesley's petitions for the execution of the deed. Here is the Petition:

All of these documents should be reviewed carefully. In the even the handwriting is difficult to read, I suggest that you take time to transcribe each document. You may wish to do this in any event to make the contents more available to family members.

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