South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Orange Free State, South Africa
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Location of Orange Free State, South Africa
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Record Description
Record Type: Estate Files
Collection years: 1951-2006
Languages: Dutch, English
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Master of the Free State High Court, Bloemfontein


What is in the Collection?

This collection of estate files from Orange Free State, South Africa includes the period from 1951 to 2006.

Each estate file contains several documents; some files are extensive as others are smaller in size. These files may include death notices, death certificates, other vital records, wills, liquidation and distribution accounts, duty accounts, inventory of goods, acceptances of trust as executor, letters of administration, notary public documents, pension documents, bank and stocks documents, valuation of properties, other assets, etc.

The estate files are arranged in chronological order and by the first letter of the surname. Groups of documents often span many years beyond the year of death of the deceased. The death notice is the most important piece of genealogical information in these files; it typically contains the full name of the deceased, date and place of death, birth place, age at death, nationality, parents, occupation, residence, marital status, spouse(s), children, if the deceased left any goods and a will. Cause of death is found only on the brief death certificate.

Estate files, created at the Master of the Supreme Court in Orange Free State, South Africa commenced in the year 1951. Not all deceased persons have estate files. Estate files are not opened for those who owned little or no assets, therefore these records cover only a certain percentage of the population. Estate file prior to 1951 may be found in the relevant Archives Repositories.

The purpose of the estate files at the Master’s Office is to administer the liquidation and distribution of the estates of deceased persons, administer trust property given under the control of any person by a deceased person, administer the property of minors and persons under curatorship, administer derelict estates, regulate the rights of beneficiaries under mutual wills made by any two or more persons. The Master’s Office keeps records for every estate within the jurisdiction of the Office, and documents are available for inspection and certified copies may be made for documents.

The fullness and accuracy of the information appearing on death notices is dependent on the knowledge of the informant, often the next-of-kin. If the informant is not a family member, details may be sketchy. However, additional information may be added after the completion of the death notice, which is a reason for seeing all the papers in the file.

The documents inside the estate files give much information about the deceased including personal details, those of his/her spouse(s), children and other beneficiaries. Addresses often also give clues to the researcher about where to find relatives of the deceased. It is suggested to look at all the documents in the file, not simply the death notice and will.

Reading These Records

Some records are written in Dutch; see the section For Help Reading these Records for translation helps.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Death notices may contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Age of deceased in months and years
  • Birth place and nationality
  • Date and place of death
  • Names of parents
  • Occupation and residence of deceased
  • Marital status and date of last marriage
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Names of children of deceased

Will records may contain the following information:

  • Full name of deceased
  • Name of spouse
  • Names of heirs and family members
  • Date and place of will
  • Names of witnesses

Collection Contents

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

How Do I Search the Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of ancestor
  • Place of residence
  • Approximate year and place of death

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches


View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page. br>

1. Select the appropriate "Year"
2. Select the appropriate "File Number" to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

For Help Reading these Records

Some records are in Dutch (with English translation). For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the age at death to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have moved, been recruited or lived nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual. This compiled list can help you identify possible relations that can be further verified by researching vital records indexes in the country.
  • When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the time period, either Civil Registration records or Church Records may be more useful.
  • While searching, it is helpful to know such information as the ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships.
  • Keep in mind that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of local genealogical societies.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another.
  • Be aware that there may have been some transcription errors.

Citing This Collection

A citation is a note that shows where you found information. Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Using citations allows others to find the same records.

Below are the proper citations to use for this whole collection as well as for individual records and images within it:

Collection citation:

"South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing The Master of Supreme Court. Master of the Free State High Court, Bloemfontein.

Record citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006.


Image citation:

When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006.


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