Arizona Probate Records
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents.
Probate records of Arizona were kept by the probate courts of New Mexico during the territorial period, 1850 to 1864. Files for the disposition of estates were then maintained by Arizona county probate courts until 1912, and since then have been handled by the superior courts. Probate clerks have kept records of guardianship from 1871, adoptions from 1873, school records from 1871 to 1899, marriage records from 1889 to 1912, and records of the care of Indian children.
Probate records, such as wills, claims, administrations, case files, and calendars are in the custody of the clerk of the superior court in each county courthouse. The Family History Library has acquired copies of some of these documents.
Searching Probate Records
It is usually best to start a probate search at the county level. Links to county pages appear below. Additional resources for Arizona probates may be found in the Arizona-Probate topic page of the Family History Library catalog (FHLC). Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Also find Arizona Probate resources available at many libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FHLC.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."
Arizona Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.
- NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.