JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen finding a person named in a will (began as Lillian KATZ -- I am Fermisht!) #general

Herbert Lazerow

Allan Jordan is looking for the person his ggf left a legacy to in his will. Ggf
died in 1941.

Exact procedures vary >from state to state, but here is the general outline. When a
person dies leaving a will, the custodian of the will presents it to the
appropriate court and requests the appointment of an executor of the will. The
court will open a file for the decedent's estate. The executor's job is to
collect the decedent's assets, ascertain the decedent's debts, pay off the debts
with the assets and, if there is anything left, distribute it to the persons
designated in the will. So the probate estate filed with the court will normally
include an inventory of the assets, a list of the debts, and a list of the persons
entitled to benefit >from the estate along with their addresses (and perhaps by
1941, their phone numbers). All this should be in the probate file (though not
every executor and probate judge is as careful as he should be.)

What the probate file may not tell you (though it might) is how this person is the
decedent's niece. It could be the child of a sibling or a child of a sibling of
his wife. It could be a grandniece. It could be someone who had married his
nephew. Or it could be the child of a close family friend who, though unrelated,
always called him "uncle", as was the custom back then. But if you have her
address in 1941 or 1942, you should be able to find her in the 1940 U.S. census,
then do genealogy on her family to see if it intersects anywhere with your
genealogy of your own family.

Herbert Lazerow

MODERATOR NOTE: Bert's comments do not address Allan's inability to find his
niece's address which he said was not in the files, but does provide some
worthwhile information regarding the use of wills and probate files.

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