Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Orleans, Louisiana, United States
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Flag of Louisiana
US Locator Map Louisiana Orleans.PNG
Location of Orleans Parish, Louisiana
US Locator Louisiana.png
Location of Louisiana
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1804-1846
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of probate estate files, from 1804 to 1846. Each estate file consists of multiple images.The event date is the probate date.

General Information About These Records

County probate records were kept from the time a county was formed to the present. This collection includes records for the years 1804-1846. With the adoption of the 1845 constitution, the official term for all of Louisiana's primary civil divisions has been parishes. Prior to 1845, there were both counties and parishes. 

Estate files are folders containing loose papers. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, successions, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates.

Estate files were generally well preserved, though there may be some record loss due to fire or other disasters.

Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Until handling of probate records was assigned to the Clerk of the District Court for each parish in 1845, probate records were kept in county Probate Courts. Some of the early records in this collection that were created shortly after the Louisiana Purchase were written in French.

In Louisiana, probate records are also referred to as succession records. Estate files are compilations of wills, successions, petitions, letters, bonds, inventories, settlements, and other probate records. Probate records are generally recorded in the county where the person resided. 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. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members. 

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.

Collection Content

Sample Images

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Probate records (or succession records) include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information found in these records 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 (These are used to approximate event dates, i.e., a will was usually written near time of death.)

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The approximate year of death.
  • The approximate year of probate.
  • The place where your ancestor lived.
  • The names of other family members who may be named in the the estate file.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on 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. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select "Surname Letter"
⇒Select "Individual's Name, Year" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search 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.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article [FamilySearch Tips and Tricks].

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s estate file, 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.

I Found What I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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 employment records or other types of records such as military records.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship 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.
  • 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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for another index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

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:

"Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Probate Court. New Orleans City Archives.


Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.


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 Louisiana, Orleans Parish Estate Files, 1804-1846.


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