If you have a break in your chain of title, it could be because ownership of the property transferred by inheritance rather than by sale. You may find an answer by looking at wills. A will is a legal document declaring how a person wishes his or her property to be disposed of following death. Wills are normally found at the Probate Court, and they are a matter of public record. But first check with you local historical society, library or genealogical society to see if the wills in your area have been put on microfilm.

When looking at wills, there are two terms you need to know. The devisor is the party who grants property by bequest or will. The devisee is the party who receives property by bequest or will. With your list of grantees and grantors in hand, see if any of the names appear in the devisor or devisee indexes. Wills are usually indexed by last name.

You can often find valuable information about the family who lived in the home through wills. An inventory of the property owned by the deceased as well as the contents of the home may be listed. Write down all the pertinent information from the will, including the date the will was probated. This will give you the approximate date of death of the devisor. This date will help you conduct a search for an obituary on the deceased in the local newspapers. I’ll be covering more on obituaries and their importance in my next article.