British Columbia Wills (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981 .
This article describes a collection of records at
British Columbia,  Canada
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1861-1981
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
British Columbia Archives, Victoria

Why Should I Look at these Records?

Wills can be a great source to verify family information. Wills will often name relatives by name and relation, making it a great tool for genealogists who are trying to gather all members of a family. It can also be useful in figuring out extended familial relations.

Wills also give a sense of the types of property your ancestor owned. This can help a researcher understand more about the living conditions certain ancestors lived under.

What is in the Collection?

This collection will include records from 1861 to 1981.

Probate records were kept by probate or surrogate courts. Often the size of the estate determined which court held jurisdiction. Search the records of all probate courts in all places where the individual had property.

The Central Will Registry is maintained by the Department of the Attorney General for all wills probated in the province of British Columbia. Probate records before 1930 are usually at provincial archives, with microfilm copies at the appropriate court. More recent probate records are usually only at the court.

The Family History Library has microfilmed records from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) (formerly known as the National Archives of Canada (NAC); and earlier known as the Public Archives of Canada (PAC)) and the provincial archives in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. It has vital records and probate records from British Columbia, homestead applications from Saskatchewan, land and property and probate records from Newfoundland, and probate records from Manitoba but few records from other Canadian archives. More information can be found at the Canada Archives and Libraries article.

A will is a written, legal expression of a person’s wishes for himself and his property at the time of his death. It usually describes the estate and gives the names and relationships of heirs or beneficiaries. The affidavit of the witnesses includes the date or proof of death. If accepted by the court, a copy of the will was sometimes recorded in a will book or register kept by the clerk of the court. The clerk may have made errors when he transcribed the will, but the original will is often kept in the probate packet.

For a list of an index and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Records from the British Columbia Wills collection may include the following information:

  • Date of death
  • Names of heirs and guardians
  • Relationships
  • Residences
  • An inventory of the estate
  • Names of witnesses

How Do I Search the Collection?

See Images, in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.
Once you've reached the browse page, follow these instructions to get to the images:
⇒ Select the appropriate "Record Type"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Index Year and Surname or Will Number Range," which will take you to the images.

Important: There are indexes available in this collection of images. The indexes are located in the section titled, Index. Look for your ancestor's name and look for the will number by their name. You may need to look through a number of folders before you find your ancestor. The will number is listed under the column, Remarks and not the column, Will#. This will help you find the record you are looking for in the collection. Also, The number for each will is written in the upper right-hand corner of each page of the will in small script, be aware that some wills are missing from the collection. The Will Numbers are listed in the indexes under the "Remarks" column, and NOT the "Wills" column. Some letters of the alphabet are continued at the end of the index volume. The index to these wills is also the index to the Victoria Probate Registry district records.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I'm Looking for, Now What?

The wills can give you a wide variety of genealogical information for your research. When you have found the will that you are looking for, you can use it for:

  • Identifying the ages of the family members, the spouse of the deceased, and/or the extended family.
  • Gathering information on where the deceased was living at the time of death. That will allow you to search the British Columbia Death registrations and give you the place of death, date and place of birth, and/or the date and place of marriage.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Don't forget to search through the handwritten indexes that have been digitized in this collection with the wills! They will help you know if your ancestor is there without having to search through every will within a certain time frame.
  • Verify if your ancestor died in British Columbia. You may be able to do this using the British Columbia Death Registrations that are available online.
  • Not everyone in British Columbia had a will when they died. It's possible that the person you're looking for was one of those who didn't leave a will.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981" Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing Supreme Court. British Columbia Archives and Records Service, Victoria.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.