How Do You Know if Someone Died in Your House?

With an older home, it might be impossible to know its full history, but if you want to do research to figure out if someone died in your home, here are a few suggestions for your search:

  1. Create a timeline of all known owners and residents in the home. County assessor records are a good place to learn who owned your house before you, and luckily some of those records are online. Some states require disclosure if a death occurred on a property if it’s sold, so former deeds and property transfers might contain this type of information. Check U.S. Stigmatized Property laws for your state.
  2. Once you know former owners, you need to know who lived in the house with them, and potentially who the neighbors were. Census records can be helpful, as some entries show the physical address. Free sites like Familysearch.org are good sources for this information.
  3. Did any of these residents die during the years they owned the house? You can locate death dates for owners or residents using sources like the Social Security Death Index. Some states also maintain death indexes you can search online.
  4. Now you know who lived in the house and when they died, but where did they die? Obituaries are a great source for this kind of information. You can locate obituaries using newspaper archives at libraries or online. Look for references to “died at home.” Death certificates are the definitive record to document where a person died, but they are restricted to relatives in many locations, and most states require a fee to access them.
  5. Maybe a death occurred at your house that wasn’t from natural causes or an accident, and you’ll need to dig deeper into the criminal history. If you’re lucky, local newspaper archives are indexed and you can search your address for crimes or other notable events. City and county-level records can be searched as well for crimes occurring at an address.
  6. If you have hit a brick wall, there are pay sites like diedinhouse.com that will search records for you, although the searches are only as detailed as the records available on the website. A professional genealogist can also locate sources you might not have thought to check – contact us for more information.

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