Tag Archives: testator

2010 to do list – what to do with wills?

29 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

There is one source type that causes me no end of confusion, and that is probate records, which in practicality means copy of wills.

I have copies of several wills in my collection, of varying lengths and ages. I have transcribed most of them, but I know there are one or two that still need so work.

Don’t get me wrong, I love wills and the relationship details that they sometimes contain. In fact some of the wills in my collection have solved some tricky relationship issues (see my post about William HOLMAN’s will)

The reason they cause me such problem is knowing what information to enter into my database and where to enter it. I think the problem is that there is usually so much information contained in a will that it is hard to know how and where to record it.

There are so many different facts that could possibly be contained in even a straight-forward will:

  • the address and occupation of the testator
  • the names, addresses and occupations of the beneficiaries
  • the bequests made to the various beneficiaries
  • the relationship of the beneficiaries to the testator
  • the names, addresses and occupations of the executors
  • the relationship of the executors to the testator
  • where, when, to whom and by whom probate was granted

I am sure there are many more possible facts that can be extracted from a particular will, but the problem I have is knowing what to do with them.

I think there are only two GEDCOM tags associated with probate records PROB and WILL, so really I am going to have to add at least one more to record that an individual was a beneficiary (and what the bequest was) and another to record that someone was named as an executor.

Ideally I would record that fact that an individual was a beneficiary or executor on both the individual’s record and that of the testator. Most of the other information can probably recorded using the other standard tags for addresses and occupations citing the will as a source.

So in 2010 I am going to get to grips with my wills, making sure they are transcribed and making sure I have captured all the information contained therein and recorded it against the relevant individuals.

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