Before Your Executor Just Dumps Your Stuff on A Library’s Doorstep

Putting a clause in your will that “my genealogical papers are to go to the BlahBlah Library” without some advance planning could have unintended consequences.

Some thoughts on preserving your “files” and papers by donating to a library or archives:

  • libraries may not want or be able to maintain random copies of public records that are available elsewhere
  • libraries may not want or be able to maintain random copies made from published books
  • unorganized materials are difficult for libraries to inventory and manage and they are difficult for patrons to use
  • photographs, personal certificates, and other “unique” items are more likely to be preserved and collected, but it can be difficult for some facilities to afford to maintain these collections–consider leaving some financial legacy (if possible) to assist in long-term maintenance
  • ask first to determine if the facility can or is willing to take your collection
  • again–ask first
  • organize your material while you are still able to. Make continued organization of your materials a regular part of your research process. You never know when that day may come when your donation clause will go into effect.
  • one last time–discuss this with the recipient first.

We will continue to have occasional posts on this topic. We don’t have all the answers, but we want readers to become educated about these concerns so they can make decisions and take action while they are still able to.

When your death certificate is being filed at the local records office—it’s too late.

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