Thank you to Genealogical Publishing Company Genealogy Pointers e-newsletter 11-29-11 for use of the following review:
The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy / by Val D. Greenwood. -- 3rd ed. -- Genealogical Pub. Co., c2000.
"Wills, and probate records in general, may be the most valuable of all genealogical sources. Val Greenwood's highly respected textbook, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy goes over these in detail.
Wills are fabulous for establishing relationships, and they can help fix the time period an ancestor lived if no other records survived. They can also provide clues to an ancestor's former places of residence, help to distinguish among persons having a common name, alert the researcher to the existence of other kinds of records, establish when a death occurred, and lead the genealogist to elusive information about an ancestor in the records of the executor or sureties to the will.
If you are new to will records, confused about the legal terminology found in wills, or just don't know where to look for probate records, let Val Greenwood come to your rescue. The author of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, who is an attorney as well as a genealogist, has written two excellent chapters about wills and probate records that should answer all your questions. For example, you will learn what characterizes the various kinds of wills (conjoint, holographic, nuncupative, and unsolemn, etc.), the legal requirements of probate, the proceedings of contested wills, and much more. If you don't know a legator from a legatee or a testator from a testatrix, Greenwood's 12-page glossary of legal terminology is all you'll ever need. And, if you want to know where each of the 50 states maintains its probate records, there's a handy state-by-state table specifying which courts have custody.
Written in a style that is clear and easy to follow, filled with examples from actual records, The Researcher's Guide should be your place of first resort for understanding wills and probate.
The Glenview Public Library owns a copy of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood. See it at 929.1 GRE.