Estate Planning for the Family Genealogist

By Arleen Richards
Epoch Times Contributor
Created: December 3, 2012 Last Updated: December 3, 2012
Related articles: Life » Slice of Life
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Krzysztof Wozniak, an amateur historian, poses with a collection of documents on the history of Konskie, on November 2, 2011. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

Krzysztof Wozniak, an amateur historian, poses with a collection of documents on the history of Konskie, on November 2, 2011. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

If you are a curious type or just have a passion for history, you may have joined the thousands of people who are on a personal quest or journey to learn the truth about their ancestors, hoping to find interesting stories to tell the rest of the family or wanting to know where they come from.

People who search their family trees accumulate a wealth of information and resources that can be very valuable to the next generations. As a family historian or genealogist, you know that you can find a lot of information about your ancestors by reviewing a last will and testament, if such a document was created.

Whether or not there is currently anyone else in the family who shares your passion and interest, you can have your own will prepared, which not only provides your last wishes, but also provides information about your life or the life of your ancestors.

For example, instead of just providing basic information like your name, address, and property details, you can also give a brief narrative about who you were in life including your date of birth, place of birth, your parents’ names, your spouse’s name and the date and place of your marriage.

This example could go on to give continued information, which identifies dates, births, marriages, places, milestones, etc. of your children and grandchildren. Of course, you should be mindful of those who are still alive regarding personal information since a probated will becomes a public document, so use your good judgment in preparing this kind of will. 

Alternatively, you may only want to provide information about yourself and your direct ancestors as far back as you can go or just go back to an ancestor of particular interest. All of this information will make it that much easier for the next curious descendant on a quest to find his family roots.

If you have spent several years gathering information and documents, you probably have many piles of books, documents, CDs, etc., not to mention the different family tree software programs on your computer. Consider how your collection will be preserved and who will take on the responsibility of maintaining it. As I alluded to earlier, there might not be an immediate family member who is interested in becoming the next family historian or preservationist. 

Therefore, you have the option of donating your valuable collection to a library, genealogy society, or some other historical preservation organization while you are still alive or leaving instructions in a legal document such as a will or trust.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at

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