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Estate Files (1900-1958)

Estate files, 1900-1958.

Description: Estate files contain records dealing with all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates in accordance with the terms of a will, or, when there is no will, by the laws of inheritance in the state where the decedent lived. Estate files are arranged alphabetically. The signature on the will, if there is one, determines the name on the estate file. The date on the file is the probate date, not the date of death. If the Archives staff is unable to prove that papers belong to one individual, they may be filed separately. Therefore, on rare occasions two files may exist for the same person.

Content: Estate files may include: a will, administration accounts, an inventory, a vendue list, bonds, renunciations and original Orphans' Court papers (see description of Orphans' Court papers under Records Available section of website). Examples of Orphans' Court records found in estate files are guardian records, trust papers, incompetent records, and admissions and discharges to the bar. Later estate files in this time period may contain petition for letters of administration, appraisement for direct inheritance tax purposes, statements of debts and deductions and petition for probate of will and letters testamentary. Please see the glossary of terms below for explanations of these records.

Will and Bond index, 1900-1958.

Content: Name of decedent, if a will or bond was filed, residence, date of probate or bond, names of executors and administrators, book and page of will or bond.

Glossary of Terms

Account - A statement in writing, of debits and credits, or of receipts and payments.

Adjudication - The formal giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree in a cause; the judgment given

Administrator - A person appointed by the court to administer the assets and liabilities of a decedent. (Administratrix if the person is female.)

Auditor - One who checks the accuracy, fairness and general acceptability of accounting records and statements and then attests to them.

Bond - A written document in which the obligor formally recognizes an obligation to pay money or to do a specific act.

Caveat - A process used in court to prevent the proving of a will.

Codicil - A supplement or an addition to a will made by the testator after the original will was written.

Cum testamento annexo (CTA) administration with the will annexed - Administration granted in cases where a testator makes a will without naming any executors.

De bonis non (DBN) - Administration granted to another party when the previous administrator or executor resigns.

De bonis non cum testamento annexo (DBNCTA) - That which is granted when an executor dies leaving a part of the estate unadministered.

Executor - A person appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his will, and to dispose of the property according to his testamentary provisions after his decease. (Executrix if the person is female.)

Fiduciary - A person or institution who manages money or property for another and who must exercise a standard of care in such management activity imposed by law or contract.

Intestate - When a person dies without making a will, or dies without leaving anything to testify what his wishes were with respect to the disposal of his property after his death.

Inventory - An itemized list of the various articles constituting an estate and their value.

Nuncupative Will - An oral will declared or dictated by the testator in his last sickness before a sufficient number of witnesses, and afterwards reduced to writing.

Pendente lite - Administration granted during the pendency of a suit concerning the validity of a will.

Probate - Court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid.

Relict - A widow or widower.

Renunciation - When a person waives their right to serve as administrator of an estate.

Testator - One who dies leaving a will. (Testatrix if the person is female.)

Trust - An equitable right or interest in a property held by one person on behalf of another.

Trust fund - A fund established (esp. by testament) for the benefit of a person or institution under provisions over which the beneficiary has no control and which a trustee has the duty of applying.

Trustee - Person holding property in trust. The person appointed, or required by law, to execute a trust.

Vendue List - A list of items sold at a public auction. It will usually list the item sold, the buyer and the amount paid for the item.

Will - The legal expression or declaration of a person's mind or wishes as to the disposition of his property, to be performed or take effect after his death.


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