The Inheritance Process in San Bernardino County, California, 1964: A Research Note
29 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006
Probate records are ubiquitous. Virtually every American county has records of estates of the dead. These records contain rich source material for any study of American legal and social history. They have a lot to tell us about family life, about the economy, about love and death and every aspect of life in America. Yet very few scholars have tried to tap these records. There are very few empirical studies that use as their main source probate records, probably no more than a dozen or so, and even fewer in California. This research note is a modest attempt to add to the stock of knowledge, and to document some basic facts about the probate system at work in one place and at one time (San Bernardino, California, 1964). We analyze 513 probate records - both intestate and testate proceedings - of decedents who died in 1964 and whose probate proceedings took place in San Bernardino County, California.
Part I of this article provides a brief historical background on San Bernardino County and the state of probate law in California in the 1960s. Part II then describes the research methodology: the sample, the data collection process, and the typical testate and intestate files. Part III outlines the findings of this research, both with respect to intestate and testate proceedings, followed by some concluding remarks.
Keywords: legal history, inheritance, trusts and estates, wills, California, probate
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation