Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roadblocks to finding Court Records

If you are attempting to find a court record you may stumble across several roadblocks along the way. Knowing what these roadblocks are before you even begin your search may be vital to you finding success in your search.

Roadblock #1 – Where to Search
The first roadblock you may encounter when performing a court record search is where to even begin your search. Court records are kept in the individual county where the proceedings took place. State records may have a copy of the court record, but it varies by each state according to their reporting procedures.

Roadblock #2 – What Court to Search
Different proceedings are tried in different courts. For example, you will not find a civil court record in a criminal court records archives, and vice versa. It is helpful to know what proceedings you are looking for and what court they would have been tried in according to that particular state and county.

Roadblock #3 – Sealed Records
You should be prepared that some records are sealed. This is often the case with domestic cases or cases that involve minority children. If a case was tried in a Family Court, the court records may be off-limits to you. In the event of a sealed court record, you may not have any alternative to uncovering them.

Roadblock #4 – Statute of Limitations
In many cases court records are only searchable for as long as the statute of limitations. If this time limit is past, you may have an unsuccessful search. It is possible for a current inmate to come up blank on a court record search due to the statute of limitations.

Roadblock #5 – Pay Up
Regardless if you find the court records you are looking for or your search comes up blank, you will still have to pay to perform the search. This can make an exhaustive search cost-prohibitive. It also makes conducting as much research as possible prior to beginning your search so you can perform a narrower search more important.

If you can expect and overcome these roadblocks, your chances of success for a court records search will greatly improve.

Photo: Suat Eman

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top 10 Tips For Searching Court Records Online

Performing online searches for court records can be overwhelming. In addition to not knowing where to start, if you don’t know the proper places and way to search, you may not find what you are looking for. Below are the top 10 tips for searching court records online.

#1 - Research

Prior to starting an online search for a court record, you should thoroughly do any research you can. Try to narrow down important search ranges such as which counties the trial may have been in and a date range. The narrower your search, the easier it will be.

#2 - Read

You can find out a lot of information on performing court searches online by reading books about private investigating. In today’s day and age more and more people are performing things themselves, including investigating other people.

#3 – Skip the Registration

You should always skip the registration that is available on many search sites unless you need to perform an advanced search and it is required. Signing up to various websites will only cost you time with no benefit in return.

#4 – Skip the Arrest Records

County court records do not keep arrest records so skip this search.

#5 – Know the County?

If you know what county the trial was performed in, start your online court record search in that county.

#6 – Don’t know the County?

If you do not have the name of the county, you should start your court record search with the state. Keep in mind that not all states require all counties to send them their reports.

#7 – Family Records

If you are looking for family records, keep in mind that these records may be sealed. This is true in cases of domestic abuse or sometimes when a party to the trial is underage. You may have to search in another way.

#8 – Statute of Limitations

If you are searching for a court record that was completed over 7 years ago, it may not show up in your search result. This can be true even if the person is still currently in prison. The Fair Credit Reporting Act places limits on what information is accessible after 7 years.

#9 - When to Call

If the record you are searching for is over 7 years old can you cannot find it with an online search, place a call to the county courthouse. Find out what their procedures are in handling aged cases.

#10 – When to Call it Quits

If you have exhausted the most logical places and means of performing an online search for a court record with no results you may need to throw in the towel. The website will charge you whether you find what you are looking for or not. At some point, it can get cost prohibitive to remain searching.

By adhering to these top ten tips to performing your online court record search, you should be assured of relatively fair success. If you cannot find what you are looking for, it may not be available to be found.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where to Start Your Court Record Search

Now that court records are available online and to the public, it would stand to reason that finding them would be simple. Unfortunately, that is not the case because there is not one centralized location for all the court records across the United States.

Thus, you need to visit individual county court or state court websites. When visiting state court websites you need to hope that the appropriate counties have relayed their information to the state.

PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records is a new system being introduced that has hopes to make all court records accessible to the public in one easy system. This, however, is still in the future.

Perhaps the hardest part of performing a court record search is to know where to begin your search. Many individuals are not even aware that counties have separate recording systems than states, and vice versa. Knowing where to begin the search can be confusing and overwhelming.

Any information you read will tell you to begin your court record search at the county court level. But, what if you don’t know what county to look in? In this case, you may have to begin your search at the state level.

Most county courts do pass along their court records to the state they are in. This is not always the case however, and the procedures for each state can vary. This is why sometimes a state court record search can be inaccurate.

What alternative do you have? If you have several possible counties, you can try looking at each county’s record individually. If you don’t even have a hint of a clue, then you may need to perform some additional research prior to beginning your court record search.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can a Book help me Perform a Court Record Search?

If you are undertaking a court record search, you are most likely starting your search online. There is a wealth of information hidden in online archives today. The real trick is determining how to go about uncovering these online archives. From knowing where to start your search, and how you can gain access, it can be overwhelming. In fact, you just might need to start your online court record search with a good old paper book.

Books can be a useful tool to understanding how the court system in America works. When trying to find online court records, you will need to have some basic understanding of America’s court system, as the courts are responsible for harboring all of the court records.

Books can also help you get started on where to find the information you are looking for. Alan M. Schlein’s book “Find it Online, Fourth Edition; The Complete Guide to Online Research” is a great resource for how to find information online. It is not limited to the court system and court records, but rather a broad based book about how to find what you are looking for online.

The passage of PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, now makes court records accessible to the average American. But you still have to know where to start your search and how to go about it.

Since many court records are held in the county of the state where the proceedings took place, information you can find out about an individual county is invaluable. There just aren’t that many books, however, on counties available.

Thus, reading books that relate to searching methods and techniques will prove to be a greater help to you prior to performing an online court record search. Books about online searching, private investigation methods, and court record storage can all provide helpful information you can use when performing a search.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best Book about How to Search Court Records

While it is true that court record searches can now be performed online due to the electronic storage of these records, you would be foolish to not take into account offline methods when performing any search. In particular, there are many books written about the search for court records that can be invaluable in your own search.

From a book, you can find such information as what records have what information, what records are more readily found in a county or state search, and how your search process should be started.

There is a good chance that you have read one of the “Idiot’s Guide To….” books in the series. These books are great at giving step by step instructions and important inside information for a variety of topics. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating” by Steven Kerry Brown has some wonderful information on searching court records.

The book uses the situation of people that perform searches for long lost family members. Many times, an individual will spend countless years searching and come up empty. It is only after they hire a private investigator that progress is made and the family member is found. Why is this? It is because private investigators have the skills and training to methodically search public records and court records to find the information they need. The book explains how you can perform these same searches without hiring a private investigator.

If you look at user reviews of people who have purchased the book, you will find that almost all readers give it five stars. Even actual private investigators have read the book and picked up a few tips. They recommend it for anyone looking to enter the private investigating field.

If you have needs to perform court records searches, you may want to invest in this book. It is relatively inexpensive when you consider the time and effort it can save you on future searches.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Long Does an Online Court Record Search Take?

In today’s day of cyberspace and global information sharing, you can find just about anything you are looking for online. This includes court records. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can now perform court record searches from the privacy of your own home. Just how long can you expect a thorough search to take? Well, it depends on the record.

Any search for court records usually begins at the courthouses website. If you know the county in which the person was tried, you can perform your search from the county site. Usually, the information you are looking for will pop up on your screen, ready to be printed out.

It can get a little murky if you aren’t sure what county or possibly even what state you should be searching. In this case, you may need to broaden your horizon. There are websites that will perform a court records search for you if you are unsure where to look or want to make sure you are performing a comprehensive search.

Some of these websites guarantee a 24 hour turnaround if you request the search on a business day during working hours. Criminal records take longer to search than civil records, and a county criminal search can take as long as three business days.

Since there is not one centralized court record system across the country, there is a chance your search can take even longer. Different states and counties have different reporting methods and record storing processes. Because of these jurisdictional issues, a search can take weeks or even longer.

Unfortunately, it does not matter how long the search for a court record takes, or even if any records are found, you will still be charged for the search. These websites do not guarantee results. There are many reasons records will not be found. Even, an individual who is currently serving a sentence in jail may not show up on a court record search depending on the statute of limitations for the jurisdiction they are in.

When paying for a court record search, keep an open mind and know that you may not get the records you are seeking. You are paying for the convenience of someone else spending the time and resources to perform the search for you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Get Access to Public Records

There are numerous kinds of public records like the number of births, deaths, divorces, marriages, missing people, voters, sex offenders, court records and criminal records that took place in a certain period of time. It is not very easy to obtain these records because it can infringe on the privacy and liberty of an individual. Many states have enacted legislation to protect this private information of its residents. For example, in Arizona birth records are not made available to the public until 75 years after the date of birth. These restrictions make it hard for anyone to get access to records easily. Below are some of the ways by which you can view public records.

Internet is one of the best ways to get access to public records. There are many state Government websites that can provide the information you are looking for. The Department of Health Services for each state is a good place to collect the required information. Another place to look for is free websites that help you to search your family tree and to access public records. Some websites are maintained by professionals and you can get access to information by paying a small fee. One advantage of using these paid websites is the accuracy of information provided by them.

There are other means to access public records and one of the most popular is through libraries. For example, the Huntington Library in California has records dating from 1769 to 1850. Some counties may offer access to public records provided you furnish the right reason for viewing and its intended usage. Sometimes you may find public records on state archives and it is a good idea to check these archives too. These are some of the ways by which you can get access to public records.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Finding Court Records Online

In the past, searching for court records would require making a trip to the local court house. There, you would go into a dark and dusty back room and search through endless boxes and files cabinets. Perhaps, you would fill out forms and a courthouse clerk would search for you. You would wait endlessly until the clerk came back, usually with disappointing news that they came up empty-handed. Searching court records has come a long way with the advance of technology and the internet.

Now, court records are all input into an electronic system. This enables you to perform online searches of court records to pull up what you are seeking. This definitely cuts down on search time and drive time. The electronic system also lowers the risk of errors such as records being filed in the wrong place.

Before you begin to search for online court records, it is best to have a understanding of the court system of the United States, as they are responsible for keeping court records. There are county courts, state supreme courts and the highest of them all, The Supreme Court of the United States. Each court system will have its own records and own policies regarding searching for court records.

Therefore, it is imperative that you have some basic knowledge about where to begin your court record search. Many times you will have the name of the county or state where you should be searching. Other times, you will have to hazard your best guess. In these instances, be prepared for longer search times and many empty results.

You should always start with the county if you know it when perform a court record search. If you do not know the name of the county you may want to do a little more investigative digging before beginning your court record search online.

With the proper background and knowledge you can easily find what you are looking for without spending endless hours down at your local court house.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Searching for Public Records Tips

In the not too distant past, individuals had to search for court records manually – approaching someone who worked with the court records and could look up an individual’s name to determine whether they have a record or not. These days, it’s relatively easy to find out about a person’s court record past simply by logging onto your computer. Many different websites allow individuals to pay a fee in order to access information about another person’s court-related background.

While most of these sites can have the information back to you within twenty-four hours, there are sometimes snags that make the process take longer. Most of the time, these snags have to do with which county is being searched. Of course, you’re still charged, even if the website is unable to find records related to the individual’s past.

Researchers suggest that at least one out of every ten individuals who are searched will have a court-related background. However, in some cases these records cannot be accessed – either because the incidents happened too long ago or for some other reason. Knowing the exact county court records to search can help these sites find records related to the individual you’re searching.

In order to find out more about court records, read informational articles online and find books by experts in the field. Since the process is a complicated one, seeking knowledge about the best way to perform a court records search can certainly help. Also, the more information you have about the individual you’re searching, the more likely you are to find relevant records from his or her past.

Even with delays and fees, the technology available to research court records can be extremely helpful in many situations. From important jobs where a person’s background determines whether they can have the job to individuals protecting themselves and their children – this information is crucial for many reasons.

Photo: Graeme Weatherston

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Employers Look For in Court Records

If you have recently entered the ranks of those looking for a job, you may keep coming across the same thing at the bottom of each job application. Employers are disclosing that they will be performing a background check on you as part of their hiring process. Most employers will look through the court records of the county you live in and will be working in.

Employers regularly search court records for background information on job applicants. This is particularly true if they are hiring for a position that will have access to cash, credit cards, or even general merchandise. By accessing the court records they can find out if the job applicant has a history of petty theft or larceny. Check fraud or forgery is also something that will tip an employer off for any applicant that is in looking for a retail position.

If you are applying for a job in which you will be driving a company vehicle or even your own vehicle on company time, employers will look at court records to see if you have drunk driving convictions, excessive speed tickets that were considered felonies, or other court records pertaining to your driving history.

Any jobs that would involve you working with children or being in close proximity to children such as a teacher, bus driver, lunch aide, etc. would have employers looking at criminal court records. There, they would search for any court records in regards to sexual harassment or molestation. This search is now expanding to employers who hire in the health care industry where nurses and nurses aides will be caring for sick and elderly patients.

Employers perform these court record searches to protect themselves and their liability in the event a future incident occurred. If they have performed a thorough court record search and did not find any damaging records that will help them absolve any liability. If, however, damaging records were found and they hired the job applicant regardless, they may be on the hook for future crimes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Are Bankruptcy Records Easy to Find?

Are Bankruptcy Records Easy to Find

Bankruptcy is the legal process by which an individual declares himself or herself to be in a financial position that incapacitates him or her from paying the debts. In other words, the individual does not have sufficient money to pay the bills. Bankruptcy records contain the names of individuals and their date of filing for bankruptcy, amount of debt due along with other personal and financial information.

Bankruptcy records are primarily used by credit companies to determine the credit score of the individual. Based on this score, the lending rate for an individual is determined by the lending institutions. The bankruptcy filings are valid for ten years only and during this time it can have a big impact on the credit score. If you are looking for a record as a part of your background check on an individual, you can find them at the below mentioned sources.

Bankruptcy records are not very easy to find because of the personal nature of the records. It is easier to locate these records using the Internet because you will have access to more than one source at the same time. The National Archives that is maintained by the Government is a good place to start your search. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic service in which you can obtain the case information from bankruptcy courts for a small fee. You can also visit your local library to check if they have any bankruptcy records.

There are many companies that offer to find the bankruptcy records for you at a reasonable charge. These companies will save you valuable time and effort and so you can consider this option if you have just a handful of records to search. In short, bankruptcy records are hard to find and it requires a lot of effort.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

5 Tips for Finding Court Records

Many individuals may find themselves in the position where they need to search for court records for certain people. This can be a daunting task if you’re not sure what you’re doing or if you’re not prepared. There are 5 tips that will help you find exactly what you’re looking for and will help you find it more quickly.

1. Get as Much Information as Possible – When you’re searching for court records for a certain individual, it’s important to get as much information about that person as possible. This includes which county you’re most likely to find court records, the individual’s full name, date of birth, social security number and physical description. Every detail you gather about the individual increases the chances of you finding what you need.
2. When Using Online Search Sites – You should only use these sites if you know exactly what you’re searching for and plan on doing an advanced search. You don’t need to use these sites to do general searches of court records – you can do that for free. However, if you need specific information and you have details about the individual you’re researching, online search sites can be very helpful.
3. Find a Good Book – Investing in a helpful book can be a wonderful way to determine exactly how to find the information you need. One of the best books on the topic is ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating’ by Stephen Kerry Brown. This book explains a lot about finding information on individuals – and anyone can use the techniques inside.
4. Searching the State – If you’re unsure of which county to search in, try doing a search of the state using details about the individual you’re searching. In many cases, counties report information to the state and you’re able to find the information you need with a state search. It’s worth a try.
5. Call County Courthouse – If you’re searching for records that may go back more than seven years, you may need to put in a call to the county courthouse. You’ll need to ask them first how they record and find information in their system, as well as what you have to do to get access to the records you’re looking for.

By using these tips, you can make it easier on yourself when you need to do a court records search.

Are Wills a Matter of Public Record/

Are Wills a Matter of Public Record? Wills are public record however the procedure one would go about obtaining them may be different from state to state. Here are some tips to help you with your search.

The first logical step to obtain a copy of a will would be to contact a relative of the deceased or someone who was on the will that is wanted. If this leads to no success, contacting your local courthouse would be the next option for obtaining or reviewing the contents of a will. This can be done by phone call or in person. Wills may also be found with a web search but only if the county that holds the will keeps this information copied online.

Researching to find a will can be a long tedious process if you are not sure of where or how to begin. My first suggestion is to ask someone in the probate or clerk of courts office exactly what the process is to find a will. They will be able to walk you through all of the steps. Be sure to ask for paper if necessary to take notes. They will be able to offer direct search information as well as tips and the best way to start. These professionals have been performing these types of serarches for years and are very knowledgeable.

Another option to obtain a public will would be to pay someone to do the research for you. There are companies online that will do the searching for you to help you find a particular will. One company is US Gen Web These volunteers have the resources necessary to obtain information from all over and they handle this research gathering on a daily basis. Keep in mind however that since this service is volunteer based that your particular decedent's will may or may not be present.

If you are open to pay, you can try Gov Court Records.Their resources also contain paid subscriptions to databases, usually world wide. A final suggestion to obtain a public will would be to contact the lawyer that handled the matter. They should be able to offer up a copy, depending on how long it has been since the death. They may charge a small fee for this service. Some may even refuse to give you a copy depending on your purpose and intent of this matter. Choosing one of these options will help you locate a public record will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Common Difficulties When Searching for Court Records

If you’ve found yourself in the position where you need to find court records in someone’s past, you may be a little frustrated. While there are modern technologies available to help you with your search, there are also many hang-ups in the system. For instance, while some individuals may have a criminal record, their information may not show up in a general court records search. One way that this might happen is if the individual was tried in a different court, such as family court due to a domestic violence situation.

Another problem is that many court records do not show up if they’re more than seven years old. An individual’s record could come back blank, indicating that he or she does not have a criminal past, but it could be that the information is too old and not able to be accessed. This can be rather frustrating, especially if you need all of the information about the individual and his or her past.

Some individuals will be unable to find relevant records if they’re not certain exactly which county to look in. Since many records are kept by county, and many records are searched based on counties, it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for without that exact information. Other times, one needs to know the general time to search under – such as which month and year the records may be present in. This in combination with the other difficulties can make finding certain records nearly impossible.

Finding out as much as you possibly can about the individual you’re researching can help. If you can get specific information, such as social security numbers, date of birth, physical description and other similar information – it will be easier to find relevant records. There are many sites online that allow individuals to search for court records, and most of these sites charge a small fee. While these sites can be quite helpful, it’s important to remember that you will probably end up paying the fee, even if you’re unable to find the records you’re looking for. That said, even with the common difficulties, these services are very helpful to certain individuals.

Books to Buy on Court Record Searches

Many individuals find themselves in a position where they need to search court records to determine whether an individual has a criminal past. Some positions like this include landlords, managers or supervisors, social workers, and even parents. There are many different resources available for individuals who need to perform court record searches. Among those, books are a great one to start with.

One of the best books written on the subject is ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating’ by Steven Kerry Brown. Amazon has a five-star rating for this book, and for good reason. The book brings up an interesting point – family members spend years looking for each other to no avail, and then when the hire a private investigator, the family member is found almost instantly.

Of course, private investigators are trained and have a lot of experience when it comes to locating missing persons. The truth is that most people are easily found, but the steps it takes to find someone are not common knowledge and only individuals who are trained in the process know how to do it. With a little learning, anyone can do the same. Some investigator companies require their trainees to read this book, and it’s a great price – so it should be helpful for many.

Another great book for learning how to find someone or find information on someone is ‘Find it Online, Fourth Edition: The Complete Guide to Online Research’ by Alan M. Schlein. The book features a great deal of information on the United States court system as well as how to do research for just about anything. The book reveals important ways to find information by using the Internet. Since the beginning of PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), records are more available to individuals trying to find information.

Both of these books are valuable and wonderful books to invest in when you need to find someone or find out about someone’s past.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where to Search Court Records

The court system in America is made up of individual courts within separate counties in each state. Thus, court records are either state records, or county records. America does not have one central system, location, or database that compiles all the court records from every county in every state.

Knowing the background of how our court record system works is helpful if you find yourself in need of performing a court record search. While you may have initial disappointment that there is no one database you can turn to, enter your information, and hit “search”; you shouldn’t feel hopeless.

The truth is that if you know where to look your search for court records will be much easier. It is a good idea to always begin a court record search in the county where the person lives or was tried. This is because county court records are always verified by an individual. A court employee checks all records. State court records have different reporting methods so a state search may return incorrect results.

Not all states require every county of the state to submit their court records to them. Thus, the state court records will not have a full compilation of the county court records. This can be a major problem if you only know what state you need to perform a search in, not which county as well.

It is best to perform some further research and gain the name of several counties that the person may have been tried in. Obviously, the more narrow your search the less time you can usually find the court record in. The less information you have to start with will mean a more time consuming search as you may end up searching multiple counties.

Having these insider hints at your disposal will make a court record search easier to perform. You can start at the right starting point and hopefully find what you are looking for.

Are Death Certificates a Matter of Public Records?

Death Certificates are a matter of public record. Death certificates are public records to an extent. It is possible for one to obtain a death certificate through various sources. The most common way would be to obtain it by contacting your states vital records department. Their contact information can be found with a quick web search. Most states allow you to order a copy of the death record online and by phone. The records kept are not all inclusive. Most states go back at least one hundred years although some states do go back to death dates even further. When contacting a vital statistic office to obtain a copy of a death record, there are some things you maybe asked. These may include the decedent’s social security number, birth date and death date.

They office will also want to know that you are an immediate or extended family member, hold power of attorney, or are a legal representative. They may ask you what your purpose of obtaining this record is. Other useful information to have on hand is the funeral directors name, the decedent’s parent’s names and the city or county of death. There will be a small fee charged for the administrative duties of finding and copying a death certificate. In some states, you may also have to pay an additional fee.

If you would rather receive the record faster, there are also online services that you can buy a paid subscription to and do your own researching or you may pay a business to do the work for you. This will usually be the quickest alternative but the priciest. No matter how you chose to obtain a death record, remember that the more useful information you have, the easier it will be for anyone to conduct a search for you.

Missing information will lead to longer wait times and possibly more out of pocket expenses. Being prepared with the proper names and dates should be the first part of your endeavor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tips to Access Public Records for Free

Public records are maintained by the local, county, state or Federal authorities and they include personal information like births, deaths, bankruptcies, divorces and marriages. Some of these records can be accessed free of charge while others have a small fee attached to it. Below are some of the ways to access the public records for free.

One of the places that you can access them for free is the local library. They may have records for a certain period of time. For example, the Huntington Library in California has records that belong to the 17th century. You can visit these libraries to collect the public records that you are looking for.

Another place that you can find these records are the offices of the respective county or state. Since the information is collected and used by the Government, they will have it on record in their files. However, they may not be willing to share it that easily because it infringes on the privacy of people. Some states like Arizona share only records that are at least 75 years old.

A great way to access public records for free is the Internet. There are many directory websites that can guide you to the records in the right place. The information is divided into appropriate categories and it is very easy to navigate through these websites. You will have to select the kind of record that you need like birth, death, etc. and the state or county. Based on this search criteria, results will be displayed and you can choose the required record. Some websites allow you to enter a name and the site will display all the details that are registered under that name. These websites make it easy for you to locate a particular record. These are some of the ways to access public records for free.

Tips to Get Access to Public Records

The occasion may arise where you find yourself in need of access to public records of one type or another. Fortunately in the internet age it has become more and more easy to access these records, often with only a very small time investment. The first thing you need to do is determine the type of record you wish to access, and find out where that type of record may be stored. If you are searching, for example, for records of building permits issued, you’ll want to start with the agency that would have issued the permits. If you are looking within city limits, those records would most likely be at the local city hall; if the permit is for construction outside of any city limits it should reside at county level, most likely with the office of the County Recorder or County Clerk.

If you have any question about what agency to contact, starting with a basic internet search for the specific type of record and the location with your favorite search engine will usually lead you where you need to go. For example, searching on “property deed” won’t help much, but searching “property deed filing Los Angeles” will take you right to the doorstep. When searching for public records, your local county recorder or clerk’s office is an excellent place to start. While neither of these offices will maintain all possible records you might need, their personnel are almost always helpful, and can be of great assistance in determining where the records you seek would be located. They need to know where to find records for their own use, so they’ll know how to help you find what you need.

Should you need public records from the federal government, don’t hesitate to contact the office of your Congressman. Their Congressional office includes staff members whose entire job is to provide help to constituents in navigating the federal bureaucracy, and they’re glad to help you out. You’ve already paid them to help you through your taxes, so feel free to ask for their assistance any time. They can provide assistance in acquiring tax records, or texts of both pending and existing legislation. If you don’t know how to contact your congressman, once again a quick internet search will give you an address and phone number.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are Wills Public Record?

There's nothing like the law for providing tricky, complicated answers to simple questions. With a promise to provide as straightforward an answer as possible, let's look into one of those seemingly simple questions. In the United States, are last wills and testaments a matter of public record, accessible to anybody? Wills, of course, are documents prepared to control the disposition of property after an individual's death. As such they're a matter of keen interest to heirs, potential heirs, and anyone else with an interest in how any individual has chosen to divvy up his property. Wills also provide a complete picture as of a certain point in time, a snapshot, of the entire holdings of the estate of the decedent, so they're also going to be of interest to the taxman, creditors, and any other claimants to the assets of the estate. For public figures wills can be a gold mine of more qualitative information for researchers and biographers. Before a will is filed with the local probate court it is in no way a public document.

At the death of the testator, the will is filed with the probate court, and at the point the will becomes a matter of public record -- theoretically. Unfortunately, "public record" does not necessarily and automatically mean "free access". Probate law is state law. So in the United States, probate law takes 50 different rules, with 50 different basic sets of rules and regulations. Probate law is one of those areas that has stubbornly resisted attempts at standardization. Therefore, states are going to differ in how they'll allow access to will.

To make it more complicated, some individual Probate Courts on a district or municipal level will have their own access rules. These individual jurisdictions can place significant restrictions on access to these documents, in the interests of maintaining a level of privacy for the decedent and the family. There may be no restrictions whatsoever. If there are, the good news is that wills are in the class of "public records", and that means the courts are compelled to provide some kind of procedural avenue to gain access to the filed documents. You may need to file a request, you may have to wait a few weeks, and you may even need to justify your reasons for reviewing the document.

Tips to Find Ancestry Public Records

Ancestry search is very popular because of the need for people to know about their forefathers and to connect with other members of their family tree. This search has great importance in the current world because people can migrate easily from place to another. This search is usually based on the last name and the birth records of people who share the same last name.

There are many websites available today that can make it easy for you to look up the ancestry birth records. These websites also help you to find other people belonging to your family from its large database. A small fee is charged for this service and it is really worth your money. You are saved of the hassle of going through each and every record to determine if a particular individual is related to you in any way. So, use the resources available in the Internet to save time and effort.

Some websites allow you to build your own family tree. You can start off with your name and then add your parents and spouse to your tree. You can extend this tree to include your relatives and the website may help you to identify some new family members. These records are a good way to help you to connect with people who share the same genealogy as you.

There are other ways to look up your ancestry birth records. The library may have information about the residents of that particular county or state and you can check these records. You can also use the National Archives or NARA that is maintained by the Government to know your ancestors. So, start the search for your ancestry today and you may be surprised at the information that you will unearth with the help of these records.

How to Access Public Records Online

Public records are information that has been recorded by local, county, state and federal Government for the purpose of formulating statistics and to determine a pattern, if any, from these records. These records are collected to correct the existing mistakes and to help improve the society on the whole. One can view these records either at its physical location or online using the Internet. The latter option is more convenient because you can view the records of any state or county from the comfort of your home.

You can find the information that you are looking for in state websites, particularly the Health Department websites. Some counties may also have this information online for the convenience of users. You have to extensively browse the Internet to look for such websites. Alternatively, there are some sites that act as a portal or entry point to state, county and even parish websites that have public records. It is easier to use these websites because they have consolidated this huge volume of information into manageable chunks. Usually, they are divided state-wise and then county-wise and then perhaps parish-wise.

Another good place to access public records is through directory websites that provide free search on public records. These websites are usually free though the state or county to which the information belongs to may charge a fee to access the records. You can find many kinds of records in these websites and they are segregated state-wise for easy access.

Some companies will do a background check for you based on the information collected from public records. So, if you just want to check the background history of a person, then you can entrust this job to professionals who will do it for you for a small fee. This saves you the trouble of going through each and every record. In short, Internet is a great way to access public records and you can use these websites to gather the information that you are looking for.

Tips for Accessing Public Records

Criminal records are an important part of background checking and it is primarily used by employers who would like to know more about their prospective employees. Many databases contain the criminal records of individuals and the company can use these databases to gather the required information. The database of the FBI is very extensive and has accurate information. However, it is not open for the eyes of the public and so it is impossible to access it. There are few criminal record databases that are available for the public and so one must know where to look for the right information.

Internet is the best medium to search for criminal records because it may be physically impossible to go through the records in all fifty states. The National Criminal File (NCF) is one of the largest databases that is open to the public free of charge. This database has the records of about 130 million people belonging to different states. It searches through multiple criminal records like federal fugitive files, state criminal repository records, arrest records, correction records and county criminal repository records.

Another good place to access criminal records is the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). This database has the court records state-wise and you can choose the state of your choice. There are certain rules for each state and some states like Alabama even charge a service fee. But, most states do not charge money to access the court records. You may only have to agree to their terms and conditions before you access the records.

There are some companies that offer to look up the criminal records of a particular person and you can get the information that you require from these companies for a certain fee. These companies offer good service and you can be assured of the accuracy of their information. Also, it saves you the time and energy required to go through multiple records. These are some of the ways to access public criminal records through the Internet.

Photo: Salvatore Vuono