Wills and Estates

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Not everyone who died left a will. When a will was not written, then the individual is said to have died intestate.

There are times when wills are recorded in the land deeds. A list of some of these can be found in the front of the book, Index to Wayne County, OH Probate Court Records 1812-1917. They can also be found in the land deed index under Will as the last name and Testament as the given name.

Estate papers should be carefully evaluated. Estate papers may include receipts where the heirs have received payment. When a daughter was left money, in most cases the husband of the daughter also signs the receipt. This can provide valuable information about who the daughter married. When the son was left money, very seldom is his wife listed. Other documents included in the estate papers may give information on the residence of the heirs. Sale of bill lists may give clues. Many times there was a crying sale (also known as an auction) in which the property was liquidated to pay bills. The sale of bill includes the item purchased and the name of the individual who purchased the item. Those in attendance of a crying sale may be neighbors, friends and family – many of the same people who are related or may have married into the family at a later date. Information in the estate papers may give clues to whether the deceased had a marker, the size of the coffin, doctor bill notes (invoices), and numerous other documents that may give some insight into the family.

Estate packets vary in size. Some may be as small as 2-3 documents where others may be as lengthy as 150 + pages. When making copies for researchers, check with the researcher to determine if he or she would like the complete file or only a partial file. If the complete file is requested, inform the researcher of the approximate cost of the packet.