Missouri, Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Missouri, Probate Records, 1800-1959 .
This collection includes probate records created by county courts including wills and records of estates. Most of the records in this collection fall between 1840 and 1930, but the content and years of the court records varies by county. In a few instances, if the court heard other cases in addition to probate, such as civil disputes or even some criminal matters, the records are mixed in with the probate records. Many of these records are images of records filmed by FamilySearch, but the estate files from Cole and Andrew counties were scanned at the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City, Missouri. Additional images will be published as they become available.
For a list of records currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, and other court documents. Information found in entries 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 (Used to approximate event dates i.e., a will was usually written near time of death.)
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
Search the Collection
To search the collection
⇒Select the Browse through images link in the initial search page
⇒Select the appropriate "County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Surname Letter"
⇒Select the appropriate "Individual's Name, Year" which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one 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. 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 Keep ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
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 other types of records such as employment or 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
- Land transactions.
- 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.
- Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
- 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.
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Missouri, Probate Records, 1800-1959
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Missouri County Circuit Courts and County Clerks. Probate Records, 1800-1959. County Courthouses, Missouri.