Family Meetings


Family meetings were a critical step in the succession (i.e., probate) process in the parts of America settled by the French. They were convoked when minor heirs or disabled heirs were involved. Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary explains the particulars this way:

1. Family meetings were to convene "at least five relations, or in default of relations of minors or other persons on whose interest they are called upon to deliberate, then of the friends of such minors or other persons.

2. "The appointment of the members of the family meeting is made by, the judge. The relations or friends must be selected from among those domiciliated in the parish in which the meeting is held; the relations are selected according to their proximity, beginning with the nearest. The relation is preferred to the connexion in the same degree, and among relations of the same degree, the eldest is preferred. The under tutor must also be present. 6 N. S. 455.

3. "The family meeting is held before a justice of the peace, or notary public, appointed by the judge for the purpose. It is called for a fixed day and hour, by citations delivered at least three days before the day appointed for the purpose.'

4. "The members of the family meeting, before commencing their deliberations, take an oath before the officer before whom the meeting is held, to give their advice according to the best of their knowledge, touching the interests of the person on whom they are called upon to deliberate. The officer before whom the family meeting is held, must make a particular process-verbal of the deliberations, cause the members of the family meeting to sign it, if they know how to sign, he must sign it himself, and deliver a copy to the parties that they may have it homologated."


1. John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of American and of the Several States of the American Union, rev. 6th ed. (Philadelphia: Chiles & Petersen, 1856); html edition, Constitution Society ( : accessed 8 July 2019).


" Family Meetings," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence ( : posted 8 July 2019).