Utah, Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Utah Probate Records, 1851-1961 .
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What is in the Collection?

These records cover the years 1851 to 1961. 

Probate records were court documents and may have involved loose papers or bound volumes. These files included all documents related to estate settlement, including settlement papers, inventories, receipts, wills, and other records pertaining to the estates, including accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, bonds, petitions, guardianship, inventories and settlements.

Most probate records in Utah were created on a county level though many were later sent to the State Archives in Salt Lake City. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper. 

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Utah Probate Records, 1851-1961.

Index

A user created index to these records is available at Utah, Index to Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records). You are welcome to add to that index.

Collection Content

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents.

Information in entries includes:

  • 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 will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.) 

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The place of residence
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The name of the deceased

Search the Collection

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Record Type, Record Description" category 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. 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.

==What Do I Do Next?--

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.
  • 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 other types of records such as employment or military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about:
Adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
Land transactions.
  • Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
  • 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.

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

If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.


For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use Probate Records.

General Information

Probate records in the state usually fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. Most records mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children may be given, as well as married names of daughters. Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate. 

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 and those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned may not be the parent of the children mentioned.

Related Websites

Utah Department of Administrative Services Division of Archives and Records Service

Related Wiki Articles

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.


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:

"Utah Probate Records, 1851-1961" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing State Archives, Salt Lake City.

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 Utah Probate Records, 1851-1961.