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Contents

Record Synopsis

Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.”[1] Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents.

Explore more about the probate process, limitations of probate recordsanalyzing probate records, a glossary of probate terms, wills, and United States Probate Records.

History

Variations existed within counties as probate jurisdictions and county boundaries changed over the years.

Territorial (1787 - 1818)
County Probate Judge and Clerk (1787 - 1795)
Orphans Court composed of Justices of Quarter Sessions (1795 - 1805)
Court of Common Pleas (1805 - 1816)
Clerk of County Court (1816 - 1819)

State (1818 - present)
Clerk of County Court (1816 - 1819)
Clerk of County's Commissioners' Court (1819 - 1821)
County Probate Court (1821 - 1848)
County Probate Court (for counties with 50,000+ population) (1870 - 1964)
County Court (1848 - 1964)
Circuit Court (1964 - present)

Searching Probate Records

It is usually best to start a probate search at the county level. Links to county pages appear below. Additional resources for Illinois probates may be found in the Illinois-Probate topic page of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Also find Illinois Probate resources available at many libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FamilySearch Catalog.

Web Sites

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Illinois Probate Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Published Materials

  • Eichholz, Alice, Editor. Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources. Third Edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004, 185. FHL 973 D27rb 2004
  • Greenwood, Val D. Third edition. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2000, 346. Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL 973 D27g 2000
  • Pease, Theodore Calvin. "The County Archives of the State of Illinois." Clarence Walworth Alvord, editor. Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library. Volume XII. Springfield, Ill.: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1915. Chap. IV, pp. lxxviii-lxxxi. View a free digital version online at Google Books.

State Statutes

Understanding the Illinois probate laws and how they changed over time can help us learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems.

Online digital versions of state statutes can often be found by conducting a search engine search for the term, "Illinois statutes." The following are examples of books related to Illinois probate laws:

  • Pease, Theodore Calvin. The Laws of the Northwest Territory, 1788-1800. Springfield, Illinois: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, [1925]. Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL fiche
  • Brayman, Mason. Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois....Springfield: Walters & Weber, 1845. View at Google Books using the search term "probate" for references specific to probate. Available at many libraries (WorldCat).
  • Hurd, Harvey Bostwick, editor. Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois. 1877....Chicago: Chicago Legal News Co., 1877. View at Google Books using the search term "probate" for references specific to probate. This and other years by this author available at many libraries (WorldCat).
  • Jones, William C. A Practical Treatise upon the Jurisdiction of...Probate Courts of Illinois....Chicago: T.H. Flood & Co., 1892. View at Internet Archive.
  • North, Levi. A Treatise on the Practice in Probate Courts...in the State of Illinois....Chicago: Callaghan & Co., 1875. View at Internet Archive. Available at many libraries (WorldCat).
  • Simons, Franklin Pierce. A Treatise on the Probate Practice and Law of Estates in the State of Illinois....Chicago: Callaghan & Co., 1907. View at Internet Archive. Available at many libraries (WorldCat).
  • Starr, Merritt and Russell H. Curtis, editors. Annotated Statutes of the State of Illinois in Force January 1, 1885 ....Volume I. Chicago: Callaghan & Co., 1885. View at Google Books using the search term "probate" for references specific to probate. Available at many libraries (WorldCat).

Current laws are offered online by the Illinois General Assembly as Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Additional information about Illinois state statutes relating to probate matters can be found at law libraries.

Learn More

References

  1. Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Illinois Probate Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)


 

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  • This page was last modified on 10 October 2014, at 01:23.
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