Minnesota, Will Records (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.
Access the records: Minnesota, Will Records 1849-1985 .

Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of indexes of the Probate Court will books for the counties of the state and territory of Minnesota. Some testators who resided outside of Minnesota recorded their wills in these Probate Courts. Three Minnesota counties are not in this collection: Hennepin, Marshall, and St. Louis. This project was indexed in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society. The collection covers the years 1849 to 1985.

Record Content

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information in entries:

  • 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. (There 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 place of residence.
  • The approximate death or probate date.
  • The name of the deceased.

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. 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 video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

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

  • Probate records may contain information about
Land transactions
Adoptions or guardianships 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.
  • 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 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary

Additional Information About These Records

Probate records were court documents and may have involved loose papers and/or bound Volumes. These records were generally known as a case file or probate packet. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles such as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth. Wills are normally transcribed into a bound volume.

Territorial courts were created in 1849. They handled court matters including probates. From 1858 to the present state courts replaced the territorial courts. The Probate Court has handled probates of estates, incompetency cases, guardianship, wills, and other probate matters. It also acts as the juvenile court for cases in counties with a population under 40,000. Probates are generally recorded in the county were 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 Web Sites

Minnesota Death Index

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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

When you copy information from a record, you should also 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 information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"Minnesota, Will Records, 1849-1985 ." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.

County Records Included in This Collection

  • Aitkin County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Anoka County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Becker County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Beltrami County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Benton County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Big Stone County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Blue Earth County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Brown County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Carlton County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Carver County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Cass County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Chippewa County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Chisago County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Clay County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Clearwater County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Cook County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Cottonwood County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Crow Wing County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Dakota County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Dodge County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Douglas County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Faribault County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Fillmore County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Freeborn County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Goodhue County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Grant County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Houston County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Hubbard County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Isanti County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Itasca County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Jackson County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Kanabec County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Kandiyohi County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Rock County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Roseau County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Scott County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Sherburne County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Sibley County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Stearns County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Steele County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Swift County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Todd County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Traverse County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Wabasha County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Waseca County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Washington County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Watonwan County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Wilkin County Probate Court (Minnesota). Record of Wills; Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 15 July 2014, at 23:53.
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