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{{breadcrumb| link1=[[Portal:United States ProbateGenealogy|United States]]|Portal:link2=[[United States Probate Records|Probate Records]]| link3=| link4=| link5=[[United_States_Probate_Limitations|Limitations]]> }}
While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they must be used with some caution.
=== Limitations of probate records === The following limitations should be considered when using probate records:  *Not everyone left an estate that was probated by a court. *Not all relatives are listed--usually only the wife and children. *Date of death is usually not given. *Indexes usually list testator, not heirs or beneficiaries. *Information on the residence of relatives is rare. *Probate-related records can be filed in more than one cabinet, ledger, or packet and in more than one office. *Transcribed records might be incomplete, misread, or incorrectly transcribed so consult the original when possible. *Some courthouse indexes are complex enough to require guides to use them. (See the [[United States Index Systems|United States Index Systems]] article.) === Limitations of a will ===
When analyzing a will record, be aware of the following potential problems:
*Not everyone left a will. *The spouse wife mentioned in the will may not be the mother of the children mentioned in the will . *The will may omit a deceased child . *The will may omit a child who already received their his or her inheritance . *Maiden names of female spouses are not usually mentioned . *Children are not always listed in birth order ; sons may be listed before the daughters. *No Those named are not necessarily related to the testator. *There are no every-name index indexes for those listed in the will . *May have There may be a problem with lack of punctuation--. For example, is Mary Beth, one name or two? *Sometimes cannot It can be difficult to determine the difference between married and middle names . *Relationships may be misleading: *:Uncle/aunt may be spouses*:Cousin may mean nephew/neiceniece *:In early wills, sonSon-in-law could mean step son stepson or nephew could mean grandson*:Brother and sister may mean brother and sister in the gospelGospel === Overcoming Limitations === The following strategies can be used to overcome these limitations:  *Don't make assumptions. *Look at other records. Analyze the evidence from a variety of records and correlate the results. *Search for related transactions that might be found in court records, land records, guardianship records, and vital records. *Search other jurisdictions for the related records mentioned above. For instance, land might have been owned in more than one locality, a marriage may have taken place in another county or state, or records might have been transferred to a regional or state repository. Also see the article, [[Analyzing_United_States_Probate_Records|Analyzing Probate Records]]. === Sources ===
== Limitations of probate records ==*Greenwood, Val D. Third edition. ''The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. ''Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2000. Of particular interest are the chapters, "Understanding Probate Records and Basic Legal Terminology," "What About Wills?" and "The Intestate—Miscellaneous Probate Records—Guardianships." {{FHL|960443|item}}*Rose, Christine. ''Courthouse Indexes Illustrated.'' San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2006. {{{FHL|1362624|item}} *Rose, Christine. ''Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures.'' San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2004. Of particular interest are the chapters, "Estates Galore," "Estate Documents," "Milking Every Clue from Estates," and "Strategies that Work." {{FHL|1202197|item}}*Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, editors. ''The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy.'' Third edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 2006. Of particular interest is the section, "Probate," pages 268 - 277. {{FHL|1211475|item}}
*Not everyone left a will*Not all relatives are listed--usually only the wife and children*Date of death is usually not given*Indexes usually list testator, not heirs or beneficiaries*Information on the residence of relatives is rare[[Category:United_States_Probate_Records]]
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