North Carolina Estate Files (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: North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1978 .
Collection Time Period
These records cover the years 1663 to 1978.
This is a collection of loose papers relating to the settlement of estates. 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
- Accounts of sales
- Annual accounts
- Allotments of years provisions
- Petitions of many sorts
- Bills and receipts
An index is being created for this collection.
|County||Dates||Court||Title in Family History Library 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|
- Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.
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.
Probate records include the following kinds of information. Be aware that not all information may be found in every record:
- Name of testator or deceased
- 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 county of residence.
- The approximate death or probate date.
- The name of the deceased.
Follow these steps:
1. Select the county
2. Select the first letter of the surname
3. Select the individual’s name and year of probate estate
Compare the information you find in the estate records to what you already know about your ancestors to determine which record is about your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianships of any minor children and dependents.
- Use the document 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.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
- 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.
- 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.
Keep in mind:
- 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, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- 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 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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.
Why this Record Was Created
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.
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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.
A suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023
Sources of Information for This Collection
North Carolina. Division of Archives and History. Estate Files, 1663-1978. North Carolina State Archives. Raleigh.