New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
New Zealand
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Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1843-1998
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Archives - New Zealand


What is in the Collection?

This collection includes digital images of probate records created by local courts throughout New Zealand for the years 1843-1998. The records were filmed at the New Zealand Archives, and images are being published as they become available. Although the index will contain entries up through 1998, the images for probates issued during the past 50 years are unavailable for viewing.

Wills and probate records were kept by each state in Australia, beginning in the 1800s. Anyone of legal age and sound mind, who owned property (real or personal) in New Zealand, had the right to leave a will. An individual who left a will is said to have died "testate." Someone who did not leave a will, or a valid will, died "intestate."

Probate records are court records that describe the distribution of a person's estate after he or she dies. The probate process began with a testator executing a will, followed by witnesses attesting and subscribing the will. After the death of a testator, the will was probated by the executor, usually at the court nearest the deceased’s place of residence. Since a will was the only record necessary for the transfer of property and belongings to family and close friends, disagreements often occurred. To solve such disagreements, all those involved instigated a probate. The records in this collection represent the eventual conclusions of those probate hearings. Even though probate records were not created for every person who died, they are very helpful for research because civil authorities began recording probate actions earlier than they recorded birth and death records.

To learn more about the probate records, the article New Zealand Probate Records has an expanded description of the records.

Collection Content

Sample Images

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

The following list indicates potential information provided in these records. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all the listed information, as record-keeping practices varied greatly over time.

Probate Records may include:

  • Name of testator
  • Death date
  • Record date
  • Occupation
  • Names of heirs
  • Guardians and executor
  • Relationships
  • Residences
  • Addresses of property owned
  • An inventory of the estate (including trade and household goods)
  • Names of witnesses

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

The probate records are categorized in order by county, record type, date range, and volume. The earlier probate packets are arranged in three series arranged alphabetically by surname. The more recent records are filed by date.

Search by Name by Visiting the Collection Page.

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

An index is available on the Archives of New Zealand website, which will give the probate record number associated with a name. When you search for a name on the index, it will bring up a list of documents that mention that name. When you find the entry you are looking for, click on "Order Details" to find the probate record number. On FamilySearch find the range of record numbers that includes your record number. Be prepared to sort through the files as they are often out of numerical order at the beginning of the set.

View Images in This Collection by Visiting the Browse Page

Images of digitized records in this collection may be accessed by following this series of links:
⇒ Select Browse through images on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate Court
⇒ Select the appropriate Record Type, Date Range and Volume to go to the images.

Compare the information found on the images with what is already known determine if a particular record relates to the correct person. This process may require examining multiple records before the correct person is located.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
  • Identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives mentioned in the record. While family members often appear in probate records, these records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who have previously received an inheritance. Also remember that the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned, or relationships noted in the will may not have the same meaning as they do today.
  • Use the residence to search for other records in that location.
  • Use the death date and estimated age to approximate a birth date.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of family members, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record; also, it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name, especially in church records. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for examples of common abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could have probate records under their maiden name.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches.
  • Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible.

For more tips, go to FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer back to information that has already been discovered; proper citations are therefore indispensable to keeping track of genealogical research. Following established formulae in formatting citations also allows others to verify completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves.

To be of use, citations must include information such as the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records, if available. The following examples demonstrate how to present this information for both this particular collection as well as individual records and images within the collection:

Collection Citation:

"'New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998." Database with Images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org: accessed 2016. Citing Archives New Zealand, Auckland Regional Office.

Record Citation:

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 New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998.

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 New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998.

How You Can Contribute

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.