Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.   This day always makes me think about corned beef, green beer and large Irish families.  It seems many of the Irish families I grew up with had five or more kids.  The parents in those families were amazing people.  Those families were so big that after a couple of generations, you likely couldn’t keep track of the cousins and who was the child of who.

Which brings me to today’s topic—the importance of obituaries.  As an attorney who has represented genealogists in unknown heirship cases over the years, I can’t tell you how important a well written and complete obituary is.  The typical case involves a decedent’s estate where the person’s family is completely or partially unknown.  Think reclusive neighbor who you seldom saw and who didn’t speak to anyone.  Think the great-grandchild of one of those Irish parents.  They die and don’t have a will.  What happens next?  Frequently, the Public Administrator of Cook County gets involved in administering the estate.  The Public Administrator is the public official charged with handling the decedent’s estate for people who have no one else to handle it.  They are there to wrap up the affairs of the homeless, the recluse, the person estranged from their family—you get the idea. Read More