North Carolina 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

This is a collection of loose papers relating to the settlement of estates for the years 1663 to 1979. They cover matters such as provision for heirs, including minor children, as well as distribution of funds, land and property, and slaves. The records from various counties in North Carolina were filmed at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History.

The records include the following:

  • Administrators' bonds
  • Guardians' bonds
  • Inventories
  • Accounts of sales
  • Annual accounts
  • Allotments of years provisions
  • Settlements
  • Divisions
  • Petitions of many sorts
  • Bills and receipts

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Notes about this Collection

Only the estate files are contained in this collection, the wills are not included. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.

These records are organized by the County, then alphabetically by the surname with the year of probate included in parenthesis. Some of the records are faded and may be difficult to read.

The North Carolina State Genealogical Society has partnered with FamilySearch to index these records. The estate records for the years 1669-1759 has a microfilmed index available at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Coverage Table

The Coverage Table shows the county, time periods covered, court and the title in the FamilySearch Catalog for this collection.

County Dates Court Title in FamilySearch Catalog
Lincoln County 1735-1914 North Carolina. Superior Court (Lincoln County)

North Carolina. County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (Lincoln County)

Lincoln County, North Carolina, will records, 1824-1964, will index, 1772-1964; estate records, 1735-1914*
Bute County (Bute county was discontinued in 1779 and split between Franklin and Warren Counties) 1764-1784 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Bute County, North Carolina), 1764-1784*
Catawba County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Catawba County), 1663-1978*
Cumberland County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Cumberland County), 1663-1978*
Currituck County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Currituck County), 1663-1978*
Edenton District (Edenton District covered the following counties: Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Tyrrell, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck) 1756-1806 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Edenton District), 1756-1806*
Warren County 1772-1940 North Carolina. Superior Court (Warren County) Warren County, North Carolina, estate records
Avery County 1916-1955 North Carolina. Superior Court (Avery County) Avery County, North Carolina estate files, ca. 1916-1955

Record Content

Probate records usually include the following kinds of information. Be aware that not all information may be found in every record:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Probate date and place
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
  • Document and recording dates.
  • Sometimes the date of death

How to Use the Record

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The probate place

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 image by image.
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Surname Letter" category
⇒ Select the "Individual's Name, Year" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.

Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. 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.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

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 the document recording dates to approximate a death date if you do not already have one.
  • 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 other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions and 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. It can help you to organize the names into families.
  • 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.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for check for variant spellings of the surnames.

General Information About These Records

Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care, and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned.

Most probate records in North Carolina were created on a county level though many were later sent to the North Carolina State Archives. For the colonial period, dozens of North Carolina wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London, England. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.  An index is being created for this collection. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

North Carolina State Archives

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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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.

"North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1979" Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Division of Archives and History. State Archives, Raleigh.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 11 September 2014, at 19:56.
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