Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, February 16, 2015

#RootsTech Update -- Discussion about the LDS 110 Year Rule

In doing Temple ordinances members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been asked to observe what is called "the 110 Year Rule." The rule is currently stated as follows:
110 Year Rule:

To do ordinances for a deceased person who was born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met.
  • The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  • You must either be one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.
Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.
 If you work with patrons at a major Family History Library or Center as I do, you will quickly understand the need for such a rule. Many times, people who are unrelated to the deceased person will find the availability of the ordinance work and perform the ordinances. This often causes extreme emotional distress to the close relatives who cannot understand why someone who was unrelated or even only distantly related would do the Temple work for someone else's father or mother, brother or sister, etc. Unfortunately, in the scramble to find "Green Arrows," the Rule is frequently ignored.

At the recent RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, there was an undercurrent of discussion about this subject. I find this the topic of discussion constant among Church members as they focus on doing their family history. In fact, I was asked a question about the Rule just last night at a presentation my wife and I did in a ward here in Provo.

I have heard that the standards for complying with this 110 Year Rule may be tightened considerably by adding the requirement that the permission required be in writing and submitted for review before the work can be done. In addition, the identity of any person violating the rule will be available to FamilySearch and follow-up discipline may be imposed for any violation, including cutting off access to

From my standpoint I certainly agree that more stringent measures should be taken. I have personally had to deal with grief-stricken members whose own parents' ordinances were done without permission and only shortly after death. I laud any efforts to tighten the requirements and impose penalties for violations.


  1. I would be 100% in favor of this change. Actually, make that 110%.

    Take the example of your great uncle P---. There are valid reasons why some of his temple work has not been done. His family is in the Church. He even has grandchildren serving missions right now. If and when they care to do the work, they will.

    Not too long ago a relative, actually not a relative at all, a wife of a relative, reserved his ordinances. I saw that and sent her a note explaining that she needed to get permission from P--'s family, and that I could put her in touch with them if she'd like. (I may have been too tactful and didn't point out that she had to lie to reserve the temple work.) She wrote back angrily, “WE ARE THE CHILDREN.”

    Yes, in all caps. And, no, she's not the children; P---’s daughter and son are the children, and have the responsibility to make that decision.

    I’m looking now and I'm glad to see the temple work has been unreserved. So, yes, I would agree with this proposal.

  2. My aunt (my father's sister) was born 112 years ago but had a living daughter who is also active in genealogy. I asked permission to do the temple work, which resulted in a long e-mail thread trying to explain why we do proxy work. The end result was permission "since it won't mean anything anyway, but if you want to do it, OK".
    Would I have been following the church rules if I had done the work without asking permission?

    1. It was infinitely better to ask permission than not. But the Rule is 110 years.

  3. Thanks -- I figured it wouldn't be wrong to ask permission. And now the work is done.