Tuesday, October 19, 2010

About Annual Returns and Other Estate Records

Everyone does not make a last will and testament. However, there should be "some" reference to the death in the county where he resided (Probate Court). If there is, it is discovered in the proceedings filed by the administrator. The first thing that happens is the administrator is given Letters of Administration (similar to Letters of Probate except there are no named heirs), and he makes bond. During the process, there may be children under the age of 14 years. In that instance, guardianships are arranged and bonds given to administer the guardianship. Usually, the Letters of Administration, Letters of Guardianship and Bonds are filed in the same record book. However, they can also be part of the many separate books found for estates at the court house. You have to look. The next thing that happens is an inventory is made of the estate; then there is a Sale. The Sale usually contains names of certain relatives, but you have to find them. This is done by looking up those names in the marriage records to discover if any of them were married into the family. Expect to find the widow receiving some of these items. Next, the first Annual Return is filed with the court, a year after the person died. This contains funeral expenses, physicians' expenses, expenses given to the administrator for certain items, to travel to other properties owned by the deceased. If there is a travel entry, you need to determine what State and County that property is located in. Then, search deeds and estate records there. Oftentimes, copies of estate proceedings are forwarded to other such counties.

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