Will - concerned real estate such as land and buildings . . . in
most of the country primogeniture determined the disposal of real estate
Testament - concerned personal estate such as furniture, belongings,
crops, debts etc. In the case of intestacy, personal estate went
to the widow and children, or other relatives if none.
Probate Courts - based on the parish of the deceased, there was
an appropriate probate court under the jurisdiction of an archdeacon, bishop
Probate - on presentation of a will the court passed a Probate Act
authorising the executors to carry out the provisions of the will.
The court then endored the will and gave a copy to the executors.
Letters of Administration - were granted in cases of intesacy (no
will) and the grantees were required to sign a Testamentary of Administration
Bond, usually worth twice the estimated value of the estate, promising
to administer the estate faithfully.
Inventories - From 1529 to 1750 executors had to produce
an inventory of the effects of the deceased within a year, compiled by
two disinterested parties. These were filed with the will in the
records of the court.
Women's Wills - Widows and single women were permitted to make wills,
but before 1882 married women were not, except with the permission of the
husband. It was considered that a married woman's property belonged
to her husband.
|PROBATE AFTER 1858
Since 1858 all copies of Wills and Letters of Administration in England
and Wales have been lodged centrally. The are now in the Principal
Registry of the Family Division, Somerset House, The Strand, London.
The wills are indexed and many local record offices have copies of the
Index of Wills.
Somerset House - wills may be consulted and photocopies made for
a small charge.
District Registrars - make copies of all wills. These have
mostly, but not entirely, been deposited in local records offices.
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