Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of an index and images of probate estate files. Each estate file consists of multiple images.The event date is the probate date.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.

Record Content

Probate records (or succession records) include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information found in these records includes:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Document and recording dates (These are used to approximate event dates, i.e., a will was usually written near time of death.)

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Identifying information such as probate date and residence

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select "Surname Letter"
⇒Select "Individual's Name, Year" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article [FamilySearch Tips and Tricks].

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
  • Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find employment records or other types of records such as military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased, this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for another index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

General Information About These Records

County probate records were kept from the time a county was formed to the present. This collection includes records for the years 1804-1846. With the adoption of the 1845 constitution, the official term for all of Louisiana's primary civil divisions has been parishes. Prior to 1845, there were both counties and parishes. 

Estate files are folders containing loose papers. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, successions, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates.

Estate files were generally well preserved, though there may be some record loss due to fire or other disasters.

Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Until handling of probate records was assigned to the Clerk of the District Court for each parish in 1845, probate records were kept in county Probate Courts. Some of the early records in this collection that were created shortly after the Louisiana Purchase were written in French. 

In Louisiana, probate records are also referred to as succession records. Estate files are compilations of wills, successions, petitions, letters, bonds, inventories, settlements, and other probate records. Probate records are generally recorded in the county where the person resided. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. 

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members. 

Related Websites

Estate Inventories of Orleans Parish Civil Courts, 1803-1877

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection citation:

"Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Probate Court. New Orleans City Archives.

Image citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 7 October 2014, at 20:55.
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