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.


Record Description

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. 

For an alphabetical list currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

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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

Search the Collection

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

To search the collection image 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.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives. Probate records may contain a person’s death date, the names of family members, family relationships, and residences. Use this information to search for information in other records. You may learn about adoptions or guardianship of minor children and dependents. You may have to use probate records as a substitute for civil birth and death records because they exist for an earlier time period.

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Don't overlook FHL Place Louisiana, Orleans items or FHL Keyword United States, Louisiana, Orleans items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Louisiana Archives and Libraries.

Related Websites

Estate Inventories of Orleans Parish Civil Courts, 1803-1877

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through these images in this collection and click on, "Show Citation" box: Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

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


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  • This page was last modified on 9 July 2014, at 15:06.
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