The Evolution of Women's Rights in Inheritance
51 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008 Last revised: 8 Nov 2010
This article presents the research results of an extensive examination of 1893 Los Angeles County probate records, which are the earliest such records still remaining in the Los Angeles County Archives. This research was undertaken to determine what effect the 1861 California Married Women's Property Act, together with subsequent changes in California probate law that were implemented throughout the latter half of the 19th century, had on testate and intestate succession of women's property. The article first provides historical background information about Los Angeles as it was 1893 (including population figures, the racial and gender makeup of the inhabitants, issues related to communication, migration, and technology, and a snapshot of California probate law at the time). It then gives a brief factual overview of each of the decedents whose records were studied, followed by an analysis of testate distribution patterns (with particular attention to differences between male and female decedents). Finally, it provides additional information about so-called problem wills - those which gave rise to will contests and other litigation.
Keywords: women, inheritance, probate, wills, testamentary, California
JEL Classification: K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation