Washington, King County Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Washington, King County Probate Records, 1854-1927 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
King, Washington, United States
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Flag of Washington
US Locator Map Washington King.PNG
Location of King County, Washington
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Location of Washington
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1854-1927
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

This collection contains probate records from King County, Washington for the years 1854 to 1927. The records are arranged in chronological order.

Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Washington, King County Probate Records, 1854-1927.

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Most probate records include the following information:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Death date
  • Death place
  • Residence
  • Heirs (these are usually family members)
  • Executor
  • Witnesses
  • Court where the estate was probated
  • Court location
  • Court date of probate

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The approximate death or probate date.
  • The place of residence.
  • The name of family members who may be named in the probate records.

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if it is the correct family or person. You may need to compare several persons in the list before you 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 the "County"
⇒ Select the "Volume Title and Year" which takes you to the images.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who 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 that might help you find additional family members.
  • Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about:
Adoptions or guardianships of any minor children and dependents
land transactions
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found to find more generations of the family.

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

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

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:

"Washington, King County Probate Records, 1854-1927" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing State Archives, Bellevue.

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 Washington, King County Probate Records, 1854-1927.

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.