Widow Appraisements were one of several court records filed when a Lancaster County resident died without a will. Documents were often filed in the Orphans’ Court to distribute any remaining property. In the nineteenth century widows could elect to retain $300 worth of real estate from their husband’s estate. Two “disinterested and competent” persons were appointed to appraise and set apart for the widow $300 worth of real estate. However, if that property was appraised over $300 and could not be divided without “spoiling the whole” then the $300 was set aside as a payment to the widow. Early twentieth century legislation increased the amounts of widow appraisements. Husbands were awarded similar compensation in the early twentieth century after their wife died. These records are significant because they provide a description of an individual's property as well as date of death.
Search Tip: Researchers should also search the Orphans’ Court Index for related estate records. Estate File references indexed should be requested for additional information. Widow Appraisement records beyond this time frame are recorded in the Orphans’ Court Index.