Washington County 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: Washington, County Probate Records, 1853-1929 .
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What is in the Collections?

The collection includes records from 1853 to 1929.

This collection includes probate case files from the following counties:

  • Clallam
  • Island
  • Jefferson
  • San Juan
  • Skagit
  • Snohomish
  • Whatcom

The records were created by county courts and are housed at the Washington State Archives Northwest Regional Branch.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Washington County Probate Records, 1853-1929.

Collection Content

Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents. They may include any of the following:

  • 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
  • Recording dates
  • Sometimes the date 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 "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "County"
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" 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.
  • Use the recording date approximate the death date. (For example, a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • You may be able to use the probate records to learn about
Land transactions
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.
  • 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.

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

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for an index. There are often indexes created by the court or local historical and genealogical societies.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Related Websites

Washington State Archives Northwest Regional Branch

Related Wiki Articles

 Washington Probate Records

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:

"Washington,County Probate Records,1853-1929." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing State Archives, Northwest Regional Branch, Bellingham.

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 County Probate Records, 1853-1929.