Monday, 2 November 2015

Where there's a Will....

...there's a way to get to the Truth.

A new found elderly cousin related the story of  her Grandmother's will last week, she was rather bitter that her mother and siblings were only left a pittance while one brother and a man who had befriended the old lady got the bulk of the estate.

State Records NSW (our State Archives) is situated in Kingswood which is 50 kilometres to the west of Sydney CBD. While it is good that there is plenty of parking (once you get there) and lots of room for expansion but getting to the archives is a pain. It just so happened that I was going to have lunch in our Blue Mountains last Wednesday, a trip that took me along the Motorway past Kingswood.
State Records is out amongst the gum trees on the edge of Sydney

State Records NSW do a great job and, with the help of an army of volunteers, they have a number of Online Indexes to their holdings available.

State Records Online Indexes.
Remembering that they have indexed many Probate Files so I did a search for the Grandmother's file and was lucky to find that it was available. While I was at it I also found a Land Title file for the Grandmother's property. One can pay to have the files copied and sent but at $AU30 each I could think of other ways to spend my geneabudget.

The Reading Room at State Records
As I have a Reader's Ticket for State Records NSW I was able to order the files to be ready in the Reading Room when I visited. After spending time with my friends over lunch I set off for Kingswood arriving about 3:15pm. As the files were waiting for me I was able to get straight to work. It only took me around 45 minutes to read and digest their contents and to photograph the contents on both my camera and mobile phone (Back ups are important especially when Kingswood is so far away).

The File contained affadavits, receipts, a copy of the will, details of properties owned and an inventory of household goods and personal effects.

So what did the Probate Packet reveal? The one brother and the man who had befriended the old lady got a few extra bits and pieces like a piano and some furniture  and some of the grandchildren got odds and ends but the bulk of the estate was divided equally in five shares between the four living children of the grandmother with the fifth share going to the children of her fifth (deceased) child.

Since the Grandmother died in 1944 the story of her bequests to family members has become slightly twisted. The lesson here is that while elderly relatives can be great sources of information it is wise to check the facts via other available sources.

Part of the Inventory in the Probate Packet.


  1. Great find. My family always told me that my GGM missed out on her mother's estate because she converted to Catholicism to marry my GGF. When I checked the probate packet she did miss out, but that's because she pre-deceased her mother by 2 years, & her children got that share of the estate instead - as they should. I hope they can let go of the feelings of unfairness that they've been hanging onto for decades.

  2. Interesting, and so true. Memories can become twisted a wee bit. Great example. Thanks.


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