How to Connect to a Family Member’s Tree

July 19, 2019  - by 
Picture of a bride hugging her new grandmother.

FamilySearch’s Family Tree is all about discovering and making connections. Many people on FamilySearch find these connections by uncovering records and finding new ancestors or finding new information others have posted. But you can also make connections to your living family on FamilySearch—especially as it grows!

When you add new members to your family, such as spouses, in-laws, stepparents, etc., these new additions can come with their own separate family trees. Connecting to the tree information for living family members on the FamilySearch Family Tree isn’t difficult—but it does require a little different approach.

Protecting the Privacy of Living Family Members

FamilySearch Family Tree is a shared, public tree. Information about deceased relatives can be seen by anyone who searches for that relative on FamilySearch. To protect privacy, any information about living people on the Family Tree can only be seen by the person who entered it, in his or her private space.

As an example, I entered my husband, children, and parents on my family tree. Nobody else can see the information I entered because they are all living.

Information added to a living relative’s profile will only become public after he or she is marked as deceased. At that time, duplicate profiles may appear and can be merged to group that person’s information into one shared profile.

This means that if my siblings want to see our parents (who are living) on their own tree, they have to enter our parents themselves.

Connecting Trees of Living People

Because of this respect for privacy, connecting to information in the tree about your spouse or other living family members works a little differently than connecting to deceased ancestors in your direct line. The key is adding information about your living relatives until you can connect to the profile for a deceased person.

Below is an example of how to connect a spouse’s tree—but the steps would work for connecting to the tree information for any living person.

1) From the Family Tree screen, find the place you want to add a living relative.

In this example, I want to connect Heather to her living spouse, John, so I can see his family line that stretches back many generations. So I navigate to Heather’s profile in my Family Tree.

Screenshot of a tree view on FamilySearch.

2) Add information about the living relative.

To do this for John, I start by clicking Add Spouse next to Heather’s name. (If the option to add a relative doesn’t appear on the tree view, I can also add family members on Heather’s person page and then come back to the Tree.)

Screenshot showing add spouse button on FamilySearch.

I then fill in basic information about him and click Next. On the summary screen that appears, I click Create Person to add John to my tree view. On Heather’s family tree, John will now appear as her husband.

Screenshot showing how to add information about a living relative.
Screenshot showing how to create a new person in the Family Tree.

Remember that even though John can already see his information in his own tree view, creating a duplicate profile is necessary because living information is not shared. The record of John I create will only be visible in my own private space—so long as his status is marked as living.

3) Add information about other living relatives.

John’s parents, Liam and Emma, are still alive, so I click on Add Mother and Add Father to create new records and add these relatives to Heather’s tree in my private space. I can also do the same for John’s other living relatives.

Screenshot of Add Father and Add Mother buttons on FamilySearch.

4) Connect to deceased ancestors.

Once I have entered in the information for the living people on this branch of the tree, I am ready to connect to deceased relatives. In our example, Emma’s mother is deceased and already in FamilySearch. I click Add Mother and type in Margaret Brown, born in 1924 in Kentucky.

Note: If I already know the ID number of the person I am searching for, I can choose to enter that instead.

Screenshot showing how to Add Mother on FamilySearch.
Screenshot showing how to add a relative by ID number on FamilySearch.

Once I click Next, FamilySearch shows me possible matches that it finds in the Family Tree.

Possible matches found in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

One of these possibilities is a match, so I could click Add Match. Before I do, I also notice that one option allows me to add Margaret Brown and her husband, Soloman, at the same time, so I choose Add Couple Match to add both relatives to my tree view. Once I do that, FamilySearch will connect them to Heather’s tree information—along with all their ancestors.

Now John’s family tree on his mother’s side is successfully connected with Heather’s family tree. To add John’s father’s side, I can repeat the same steps.

Screenshot showing spouse's tree on FamilySearch.

Ready to do this on your own? Go to the FamilySearch Family Tree, and give it a try!

How to Use the Family Tree

Leslie Albrecht Huber

Leslie Albrecht Huber has written for dozens of magazines and journals on genealogy and other topics. She currently does communications consulting and contract work for nonprofit organizations. Leslie received a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a professional genealogist, helpingothers trace their families, and has spoken on genealogy and history topics to groups across the United States.

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  1. This is rather remarkable in that we are being taught how and encouraged to create duplicate records. It just goes show that in order to solve a problem or create an opportunity, one has to think outside of the box.

    1. Douglas, technically we are not creating duplicate records for LIVING PEOPLE because these records are protected and housed in a separate part of Family Search’s System. Several of my family members are now interested in finding their ancestors. We may have common deceased ancestors BUT somewhere along the way as we are in different generations and do not share the same parents may have other deceased relatives that we do not share, especially based on spousal marriages. Because we now have the ability to add and/or create living family trees I am adding siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to deceased ancestors. Somewhere and sometime long after I become a deceased ancestor the records I have added to my living family trees will be historical data able to be linked to other deceased family members as units of ancestry family data instead of individual person sources.

      Keep in mind: Information added to a living relative’s profile will only become public after he or she is marked as deceased. At that time, duplicate profile indications may appear and can be merged to group that person’s information into one shared profile.

      However we look at the ability to add living family members to the Family Search system we are assisting future family researchers.

  2. what if you have a family member’s ID number but they are dead you enter the ID number and nothing comes up about their family and you have no body to ask

    1. That means that they probably don’t have any ancestors linked to them. You can start to link their ancestors by searching through birth marriage or death records to see if you can find the names of their parents or siblings. The fun part about genealogy is when you get to start fitting all those puzzle pieces together!

  3. I was hoping there was a new way to merge living people into my own tree while also maintaining their right to privacy. Maybe some day 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing! I was worried about creating a duplicate record. Is there a process at the point the living people pass away to automatically reconcile those duplicates?

    1. Douglas Nadybal and Claire Ashdown, the wonderful thing about adding live people to our family trees is that we are preserving future generation information along with sources for a later date. I have entered up to four generation of live family members to deceased ancestors., At some point as these live relative cease to be alive, data has already been entered for them as a start for future researchers. It is also nice to see that I can print a seven generation ancestry chart for my grandchildren who are still alive. When it comes to adding duplicate records for live family members I have been able to correct or direct live family researchers to ancestry information that is more accurate and detailed than what they had entered. All my relatives have to do is link their Record ID’s to their deceased parents, or grandparents, AND they can perform this function as I provide the existing record numbers for related deceased family members. So far as creating duplicate record numbers for the same relatives, the duplicate numbers are housed in another part of the system and will not be recognized as multiple record number for the same person until they are deceased. The system will then react to let researchers know there are possible duplicate record numbers that require looking into. Sometimes we do have to think out of the box, however the more information about our families we add to the Family Search Tree the better off future family members will be. I am tracing over fifty family names – distant and close relations. Someone has to start somewhere, it is like working on puzzles, scavenger hunts! Hope this helps from a researchers perspective.

    2. Until a “living” person’s status is changed to “deceased” the person who created that record is the only person who can see it. Therefore, if that person does not mark that record as deceased it can never be reconciled with duplicates. It will forever remain hidden from everyone except the person who created it.

      1. Ron V., there are multiple ways the status of a person is changed from Live to Deceased:
        1. Should I learn the person passed I can manually change the status to Deceased and enter any death and funeral information I have to verify the person is no longer living.
        2. The person passes and death information is recorded: SSA, State death info, Obituary recorded, burial information recorded – Find A Grave Index, Billioniare’s Grave.
        3. When all of the official recorded records become eligible for public search these records will appear during future searches as information applicable to that person.
        4. Future/Other researchers will be able to access these individual records, add source documents, and change the status of the person from live to deceased

  5. Can you enter the spouse in the Enter by ID Number option using his ID # even if he is living? That would alleviate one duplication and as a spouse, there’s little privacy if any infringement, not much you don’t already know (hopefully)

    1. We respect the privacy of all individuals, even if they are married. While they are living you still need to create a new person page for them.

    1. David, there are a number of ways to share your family tree with relatives but the simplest way is to print and mail it. The following article explains how to print a pedigree. There are links within it that show how to print family group records. There are also links that show how to ‘turn off’ the LDS temple info included as a default on these forms.

      Printing takes time but it not only provides a way to preserve your tree in a form that will make a nice book but also provides a way to preserve your tree without using electronics. Here’s the link:

  6. I sure could use some help with a brick wall. My Dorzab 3x Great grandparents. Co rad Dorzab born around Jan 1823 in Bavaria to Barbara Dorzab. That is all I have on his family. His wife was Rosanna born in Baden in 1831. That is ALL I know about her early life. Looking for parents grandparents etc. Conrad and Rosanna had Conrad Jr (my descendant) and Charlotte, Catherine and Felix. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  7. Necesito conocer sobre mi bisabuelo que nacio en España.
    Nombre. Manuel Diaz Rodriguez.
    Lugar de nacimiento. Monforte de Lemos, Lugo, Galicia.
    Año de nacimiento de 1885 al 1897 .
    Hijo de Jose Maria y Manuela.
    Vivio en Monforte de Lemos,Lugo, Galicia hasta el año 1903 aproximadamente, fecha en que emigro para Cuba con 16 años de edad.


    I need to know about my great grandfather who was born in Spain.
    First name. Manuel Diaz Rodriguez.
    Place of birth. Monforte de Lemos, Lugo, Galicia.
    Year of birth from 1885 to 1897.
    Son of Jose Maria and Manuela.
    He lived in Monforte de Lemos, Lugo, Galicia until approximately 1903, when he emigrated to Cuba with 16 years of age.

    1. FamilySearch keeps the privacy of living individuals very seriously, so you cannot share your familysearch ID as a living person. However, if you follow these steps in the article she can add your tree with all your deceased ancestors. If you need further clarification after going through the steps in this article you can contact a representative here. Good luck!

  8. With your help, I think I have found a half sibling. However, he may not realize his father was not his father. Not sure what to do or if I should.

  9. As a Family History Consultant, I usually advise patrons to only add just enough living people to their tree to get to the deceased, IE I don’t recommend added children and grand children nieces and nephews etc of living people unless they really want to, as if everyone did this there would be an enormous amount of merging to be done when a person dies, if in actual fact that everyone entered the death.
    Can anyone tell me if a person dies say myself and I am not able to update the data for living people in my tree, would there be a system check that would eventually sort out all the extra people with ID’s that are marked as living that could not possibly be any longer.