British Columbia Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: British Columbia, Estate Files, 1859-1949 .

Record Description

This collection contains probate estate files for the Judicial Districts of British Columbia. The Records were created by either the County Court or the Supreme Court. The years vary by court and locality, and indexes exist for the following districts, Vancouver and Victoria. The Victoria index is found in this record collection: British Columbia Wills, 1861-1939; Index, 1861-1981.

Probate records were not created for every person who died. The laws of Prince Edward Island and Quebec required all estates to be probated, whether or not the individual left a will. In Ontario thousands of wills were registered at land offices and did not go through a court probate process. See Ontario Land and Property. In other Canadian provinces, estates were probated for perhaps 10 percent of the heads of household before 1900.

In eastern Canada, most land records begin in the late 1700s. They include land petitions, fiats and warrants, land grants and patents, and deeds. The federal homestead era in the Prairie Provinces lasted almost 60 years (1872 to 1930). Homestead record files cover those years.

If you want to learn more about probate, land and property records, go to the Canada Probate Records and Canada Land and Property Records articles for more information.

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in Historical Rocord collections. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

British Columbia Information Management Services. British Columbia Estate Files. BC Archives, Victoria, British Columbia.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

These will records may include the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Death place
  • Names of children, spouse and other family members
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date of will (may include death date)

These letters of administration records may include the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Date of death and place of death
  • Name of spouse and children

How to Use the Record

For you to make your search successful in this collection, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Approximate year of death

Using the Information

When you have found the information that you are looking for, the following will help you in your research:

  • Use the age on the probate records to calculate a birth year
  • Use the name of the spouse and your ancestor's name to search for a marriage record.
  • Search for the names of the children in the British Columbia, Birth Registrations, 1854-1903 collection to find their birth dates.

To browse the collection:

To browse this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the “Judicial District/Locality” category
⇒Select the “Court” category
⇒Select the “Record Type, Date Range, File or Volume Numbers” category which will take you to the images.

Look at each image one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

If you can't find any information on your ancestor in the Estate Files, you can try the following:

In English Canada, probate records were kept by probate or surrogate courts. Often the size of the estate determined which court held jurisdiction. Search the records of all probate courts in all places where the individual had property.

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, use them with some caution because:

  • They may remove the names of deceased family members or those who previously received an inheritance.
  • The spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned.
  • Relationships noted in the records may not have the same meaning today.

More Information About These Records

There are indexes available in these collections. The indexes are in individual folders. Find your ancestor's name and look for the page, entry, certificate number or book number next to their name. This will help you find the record you are looking for in the collection.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

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 FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

“Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981,” images, FamilySearch ( accessed 28 February, 2012), La Plata > San Ponciano > Matrimonios 1884-1886 > image 71 of 389 images, Artemio Avendano and Clementina Peralta, 1884; citing Parroquia de San Ponciano en la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matrimonios. San Ponciano, La Plata, Buenos Aires.