When a person dies intestate (without a will), it is the responsibility of the executor or next of kin to establish exactly who the remaining heirs-at-law are. Even when a decedent has a will, it does not always name who will inherit the actual real estate. In either of these cases the law requires that a sworn affidavit, called an Affidavit of Descent be filed in the deed records of the county in which the real estate is located. Most of the time these affidavits are not filed until such time as the heirs decide to sell or divide the property. This affidavit legally establishes and list who has a legal claim to the property so that the grantee is assured that all interest in the property have been properly transferred to him/her. The subsequent deed to transfer the estate property then will list each of the heirs as the grantors and will also list the spouses of the heirs. So it is important to also look for the follow-up deed. Many times you will find that property has passed through several generations before finally being disposed of. When you find this situation, its a pot of gold for a genealogist, because each member of each generation must be listed along with their relationship to the decedent. I've sometimes prepared Affidavits with as many as 3 and 4 generations of heirs listed. In Carter County, these Affidavits are filed in the deed books and are indexed under the name of the decedent.
Submitted by: Sherry Lowe