Sister Ehme and What’s Germane

Jurgen Goldenstein died in Hawthorne, California, in 1972. His estate was probated in Los Angeles County and his siblings and their descendants were determined to be his heirs.

Since I only obtained selected documents from the estate file, I have no way of knowing who provided the information on Jurgen’s family. It is possible that another court filing or document indicated who provided the information. However there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the relationship information since all the heirs were sent a notice from the court regarding the estate and it would be highly unusual given the large number of heirs (30) for one to be left out without someone noticing it. I’m also personally familiar with the family (5e Dorothy Ufkes is my grandmother) and there were no names with which I was not already familiar.

The “Petition to Determine Interest” in the estate indicated that several of Jurgen’s siblings had pre-deceased him. Their dates of death are included in the petition. Personally I would use the dates in the petition as a springboard to locating actual death records. The petition would not be considered to be providing primary information on the dates of deaths of siblings who pre-deceased Jurgen. It should be noted that the document makes no mention of where anyone dies.

That’s because the court does not care where the pre-deceased heirs of Jurgen died–it’s not germane to the estate settlement. The precise date of their death really is not germane either–just that they were dead before Jurgen, were his sibling, and left descendants is what matters.

Jurgen’s brother Ehme is mistakenly referred to as a sister of Jurgen in the petition. That’s clearly an error as he’s referred to as a brother in a separate document. It’s easy to see why the person compiling the document could have been confused on Ehme’s gender:

  • Ehme is not the most common first name and it is very likely the attorney and any administrative staff were unfamiliar with it.
  • Ehme Golden did not use the last name of Goldenstein as his brother Jurgen did. It’s also possible that someone writing up the list of heirs assumed that someone with a different last name had to have been a married sister.

While it may be fun to speculate, the reason does really not matter. I know Ehme was a brother and left several children of his own. The “sister” reference is a simple error. It happens. When I transcribe the document, I’ll type it as it is and use the [sic] notation after the “sister” reference. I’m not going to correct the document.

The petition listed all thirty of Jurgen’s heirs. The most helpful part was having their residential addresses as of 1972. That information would be helpful in tracking down obituaries and other information on the heirs who have been slightly more difficult to trace in later records.

Estate records of this type are almost always helpful to the genealogist. They’ve become even more so when working with DNA matches. Just remember that with these records it is the relationships and being alive that are most important. You cannot inherit from an intestate estate if you are not a living heir. Other minor details and even the occasional error may be overlooked.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.