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

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Access the records: South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006 .

Record Description

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.

Documents are written in English and in Dutch. 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.

For a list of records by dates and localities currently published in this collection, Browse link from the collection landing page.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

"South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2006" Index and Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013. Citing The Master of Supreme Court. Master of the Free State High Court, Bloemfontein.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

These death notices usually 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

These will records usually 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

How to Use the Record

To search the death notices, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

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

Search the Collection

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select the appropriate "Year"
⇒Select the appropriate "File Number" which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

General Information About These Records

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.

Related Websites

South Africa Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"South Africa, Orange Free State, Estate Files, 1951-2004," index and images FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 April 2012), Susanna Maria Beukes Uys (1960). South Africa. Master of the Supreme Court. Orange Free State Estate Files 1951-1973. Southern Life Building, Bloemfontein Free State, South Africa.