At this time of year when we get together with family, learning more about your family history can be a fun way to spend some time. Many people admit that they don’t know as much of their family history as they wish they did. There are some important reasons why you might need to know this information too! Understanding Your Family’s Medical History Learning about your family history is important to know what diseases family members may have had during their lives. How often have we been to the doctors or had to complete a form that asks about family medical history? Knowing medical histories can help future generations to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms, which may lead to earlier detection and higher chances for successful treatment. You can also study the genetic makeup of your family members, which can be a tool to determine what risk factors you may have in your future. Building Strong Bonds If you have grandparents or even great-grandparents who are still alive, one of the best ways to learn more about them is to simply talk to them. Ask questions and write down the answers so you can share them with future generations. These questions may include things about how your grandparents met, personal stories from their own childhoods that are meaningful, and important lessons they have learned in their lives. When you talk to members of the older generations, you will be able to strengthen familial bonds while taking an interest and learning more about their lives. Completing probate In the unfortunate event of a death in the family, having good knowledge of family members and extended family members is important. You will be expected to know about full blood Aunts & Uncles, half-blood relatives and even children of those half-blood relatives. Wills may mention relatives that have since died, pregnant wives, married daughters, grandchildren, you may be surprised who pops up in a will. Having an idea of the current state of the family tree can be invaluable to help you determine how the will gets distributed correctly and fairly. residency & legal rights Some citizenship rights can be afforded to people with a citizen ancestor. For those lucky enough to have ancestors from a wide number of countries, getting a second passport can be as easy as filling out some forms and waiting. A number of countries offer what’s called “citizenship by descent”, a process which allows you to apply for citizenship based on having family born in that country. Some countries are willing to bestow citizenship to those with family trees that go as far as three or even four generations back, depending on the circumstances.