It is important to understand that the laws governing wills, trusts, estates and probate are sometimes significantly different from state to state and especially from country to country. After going to law school, an attorney specializing in this particular area of the law, could spend years learning about the procedures and details of handling a probate case.

Genealogists are told that certain types of documents, such as wills, are "valuable sources of information about individuals and families." In addition, the large genealogical database companies often have extensive collections of wills and probate files. To a novice researcher, such files can be impenetrable. Fortunately, a genealogical researcher does not have to achieve the same level of competence as a practicing probate attorney, but the learning curve can be almost as steep. Spend some learning how to successfully use these documents.