United States Probate Records

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[[United States]]
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''[[United States|United States&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]&nbsp; [[United States Probate Records|Probate Records]]''
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== History  ==
{{/box-header|'''{{PAGENAME}}'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Intro|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Intro}} {{/box-footer|}}
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{{/box-header|'''What can you find in Probate Records?'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/What can you find in Probate Records?|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/What can you find in Probate Records?}} {{/box-footer|}}
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Probate records are court records created after an individual's death that relate to a court's decisions regarding the distribution of his estate to his heirs or creditors and the care of his dependents. You may find the individual's death date, the names of family members, family relationships, and residences. You may also learn about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. These documents are essential for research because they usually pre-date the birth and death records kept by civil authorities.
  
{{/box-header|'''Did you know?'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Did you know?|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Did you know?}} {{/box-footer|}}
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Not everyone left an estate that was probated by a court. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the [[Portal:United States of America|United States]] before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will.
  
{{/box-header|'''Probate Records'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Probate Records|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Probate Records}} {{/box-footer|}}
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While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they must be used with some caution. For example, they may omit the names of deceased family members or those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned.
  
{{/box-header|'''Jurisdictions'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Jurisdictions|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Jurisdictions}} {{/box-footer|}}
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== Availability  ==
  
{{/box-header|'''Probate by State'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Probate by State|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Probate by State}} {{/box-footer|}}
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In colonial times wills were sometimes proved in courts in the old country. Some are indexed in books like:
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*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989. (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=619298&disp=American+wills+proved+in+London%2C+1611%%20%20&columns=*,0,0].) Lists over 4,800 wills with name, residence, relatives, and date.
{{/box-header|'''Beginner's Corner'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Beginner's Corner|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Beginner's Corner}} {{/box-footer|}}
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*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775.'' Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992. (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=619298&disp=American+wills+proved+in+London%2C+1611%%20%20&columns=*,0,0].) Abstracts over 6,800 wills showing name, residence, occupation, date, and relatives.
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*Dobson, David. ''Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. (Family History Library book [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=588724&disp=Scottish-American+wills%2C+1650-1900%20%20&columns=*,0,0.]) Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.
  
{{/box-header|'''Types of Probate Records'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Types of Probate Records|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Types of Probate Records}} {{/box-footer|}}
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Each state developed its own court system and procedures for handling probates. In most states, probate records are presently recorded by a county clerk, except in Connecticut and Vermont, where they are kept by probate districts, and Rhode Island, where they are kept by the town clerk. Some colonial records were kept by the town or the colony. The keeping of wills and estate papers usually began when the county was organized. Research outlines available for each state explain which courts were responsible for probate in that state.
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Search all probate courts in all localities where the individual resided or had property. Inventories of the records at a county courthouse may help you locate the records. See the state research outlines for more information on the probate process and records of each state.
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You can contact the courthouse to request a search of the indexes for the time period and surnames you need. Then request photocopies of the complete probate packet.
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Many early probate records have been transcribed, indexed, and published. The Family History Library has statewide indexes or transcripts of large collections of wills that have been published for Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. These are listed in the&nbsp;Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
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:[STATE] - PROBATE RECORDS
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== Testate Records vs. Intestate Records  ==
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Whether a person has a will or not affects the type of records that will be created in the probate process:<br>'''Testate--'''The deceased individual had a will.<br>'''Intestate--'''No will was created by the deceased.
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{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" width="503" border="5"
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|-
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| valign="top" align="center" | '''Testate Estate Records'''  
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| valign="top" align="center" | '''Intestate Estate Records'''
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Will<br>Estate File/Probate Case File<br>Letters Testamentary<br>Dower Rights<br>Guardianship<br>Settlements<br>Distributions<br>
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Administration<br>Letters of Administration<br>
  
{{/box-header|'''Topics'''|{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Topics|}} {{{{FULLPAGENAME}}/Topics}} {{/box-footer|}}
 
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== Probate by State  ==
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{| class="FCK__ShowTableBorders" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" width="503"
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*[[Alabama Probate Records|Alabama]]
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*[[Alaska Probate Records|Alaska]]
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*[[Arizona Probate Records|Arizona]]
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*[[Arkansas Probate Records|Arkansas]]
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*[[California Probate Records|California]]
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*[[Colorado Probate Records|Colorado]]
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*[[Connecticut Probate Records|Connecticut]]
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*[[Delaware Probate Records|Delaware]]
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*[[District of Columbia Probate Records|District of Columbia]]
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*[[Florida Probate Records|Florida]]
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*[[Georgia Probate Records|Georgia]]
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*[[Hawaii Probate Records|Hawaii]]
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*[[Idaho Probate Records|Idaho]]
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*[[Illinois Probate Records|Illinois]]
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*[[Indiana Probate Records|Indiana]]
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*[[Iowa Probate Records|Iowa]]
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*[[Kansas Probate Records|Kansas]]
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*[[Kentucky Probate Records|Kentucky]]
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*[[Louisiana Probate Records|Louisiana]]
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*[[Maine Probate Records|Maine]]
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*[[Maryland Probate Records|Maryland]]
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*[[Massachusetts Probate Records|Massachusetts]]
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*[[Michigan Probate Records|Michigan]]
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*[[Minnesota Probate Records|Minnesota]]
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*[[Mississippi Probate Records|Mississippi]]
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*[[Missouri Probate Records|Missouri]]
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*[[Montana Probate Records|Montana]]
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*[[Nebraska Probate Records|Nebraska]]
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*[[Nevada Probate Records|Nevada]]
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*[[New Hampshire Probate Records|New Hampshire]]
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*[[New Jersey Probate Records|New Jersey]]
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*[[New Mexico Probate Records|New Mexico]]
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*[[New York Probate Records|New York]]
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*[[North Carolina Probate Records|North Carolina]]
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*[[North Dakota Probate Records|North Dakota]]
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*[[Ohio Probate Records|Ohio]]
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*[[Oklahoma Probate Records|Oklahoma]]
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*[[Oregon Probate Records|Oregon]]
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*[[Pennsylvania Probate Records|Pennsylvania]]
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*[[Rhode Island Probate Records|Rhode Island]]
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*[[South Carolina Probate Records|South Carolina]]
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*[[South Dakota Probate Records|South Dakota]]
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*[[Tennessee Probate Records|Tennessee]]
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*[[Texas Probate Records|Texas]]
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*[[Utah Probate Records|Utah]]
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*[[Vermont Probate Records|Vermont]]
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*[[Virginia Probate Records|Virginia]]
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*[[Washington Probate Records|Washington]]
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*[[West Virginia Probate Records|West Virginia]]
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*[[Wisconsin Probate Records|Wisconsin]]
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*[[Wyoming Probate Records|Wyoming]]
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*[[United States Probate Records|United States]]
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== Web Sites  ==
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*Anne Roach, ''[https://fch.ldschurch.org/WWSupport/Courses/FamilyHistoryLibraryExport/Goldmine__Beyond_the_Court_Order_Book/Player.html Courthouse Records Overview]'' (35 minute online video) [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_online.asp%3FActiveTab=2 FamilySearch Research Classes Online], 2010.
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*[http://www.sampubco.com/index.htm Sampubco] A gateway to Indexes of Will, Guardianships, Probate Records, and Letters Testamentary&nbsp;
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*[http://www.usgenweb.org The USGenWeb Project]
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{{Place|United States}}
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[[Category:Record_Types_of_the_United_States]] [[Category:United_States]]

Revision as of 14:40, 1 September 2010

Beginner's Corner

What will I find?
Getting started
The first research steps
Finding your ancestor

Topics

Analyzing Probate
Limitations
Probate Process
Glossary
Wills

United States  Gotoarrow.png  Probate Records

History

Probate records are court records created after an individual's death that relate to a court's decisions regarding the distribution of his estate to his heirs or creditors and the care of his dependents. You may find the individual's death date, the names of family members, family relationships, and residences. You may also learn about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. These documents are essential for research because they usually pre-date the birth and death records kept by civil authorities.

Not everyone left an estate that was probated by a court. 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.

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they must be used with some caution. For example, they may omit the names of deceased family members or those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned.

Availability

In colonial times wills were sometimes proved in courts in the old country. Some are indexed in books like:

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989. (Family History Library book [1].) Lists over 4,800 wills with name, residence, relatives, and date.
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992. (Family History Library book [2].) Abstracts over 6,800 wills showing name, residence, occupation, date, and relatives.
  • Dobson, David. Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. (Family History Library book [3]) Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.

Each state developed its own court system and procedures for handling probates. In most states, probate records are presently recorded by a county clerk, except in Connecticut and Vermont, where they are kept by probate districts, and Rhode Island, where they are kept by the town clerk. Some colonial records were kept by the town or the colony. The keeping of wills and estate papers usually began when the county was organized. Research outlines available for each state explain which courts were responsible for probate in that state.

Search all probate courts in all localities where the individual resided or had property. Inventories of the records at a county courthouse may help you locate the records. See the state research outlines for more information on the probate process and records of each state.

You can contact the courthouse to request a search of the indexes for the time period and surnames you need. Then request photocopies of the complete probate packet.

Many early probate records have been transcribed, indexed, and published. The Family History Library has statewide indexes or transcripts of large collections of wills that have been published for Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. These are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

[STATE] - PROBATE RECORDS

Testate Records vs. Intestate Records

Whether a person has a will or not affects the type of records that will be created in the probate process:
Testate--The deceased individual had a will.
Intestate--No will was created by the deceased.

Testate Estate Records Intestate Estate Records

Will
Estate File/Probate Case File
Letters Testamentary
Dower Rights
Guardianship
Settlements
Distributions

Administration
Letters of Administration

Probate by State

Web Sites

  • Sampubco A gateway to Indexes of Will, Guardianships, Probate Records, and Letters Testamentary