British Columbia Wills (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, Wills, 1861-1981 .

Record Description

This collection will include records from 1861 to 1981.

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.

The Central Will Registry is maintained by the Department of the Attorney General for all wills probated in the province of British Columbia. Probate records before 1930 are usually at provincial archives, with microfilm copies at the appropriate court. More recent probate records are usually only at the court.

The Family History Library has microfilmed records from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) (formerly known as the National Archives of Canada (NAC); and earlier known as the Public Archives of Canada (PAC)) and the provincial archives in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. It has vital records and probate records from British Columbia, homestead applications from Saskatchewan, land and property and probate records from Newfoundland, and probate records from Manitoba but few records from other Canadian archives. More information can be found at the Canada Archives and Libraries article.

A will is a written, legal expression of a person’s wishes for himself and his property at the time of his death. It usually describes the estate and gives the names and relationships of heirs or beneficiaries. The affidavit of the witnesses includes the date or proof of death. If accepted by the court, a copy of the will was sometimes recorded in a will book or register kept by the clerk of the court. The clerk may have made errors when he transcribed the will, but the original will is often kept in the probate packet.

For a list of an index and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Citation for This Collection

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

"British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981" Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013. Citing Supreme Court. British Columbia Archives and Records Service, Victoria.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Records from the British Columbia Wills collection may include the following information:

  • Date of death
  • Names of heirs and guardians
  • Relationships
  • Residences
  • An inventory of the estate
  • Names of witnesses

How to Use the Record

To begin your search, it would be helpful to have the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Approximate year and place of death

Search the Collection

To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "Record Type"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Index Year and Surname or Will Number Range" which will take you to the images.

Look at the images one by one 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.

Using the Information

The wills can give you a wide variety of genealogical information for your research. When you have found the will that you are looking for, you can use it for:

  • Identifying the ages of the family members, the spouse of the deceased and/or the extended family.
  • Gathering information on where the deceased was living at the time of death. That will allow you to search the British Columbia Death registrations and give you the place of death, date and place of birth and/or the date and place of marriage.

There are indexes available in this collection of images. The indexes are located in the section titled, Index. Look for your ancestor's name and look for the will number by their name. You may need to look through a number of folders before you find your ancestor. The will number is listed under the column, Remarks and not the column, Will#. This will help you find the record you are looking for in the collection.

The number for each will is written in the upper right-hand corner of each page of the will in small script, be aware that some wills are missing from the collection. The Will Numbers are listed in the indexes under the "Remarks" column, and NOT the "Wills" column. Some letters of the alphabet are continued at the end of the index volume. The index to these wills is also the index to the Victoria Probate Registry district records.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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

"British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981," images, FamilySearch ( accessed 19 June 2012), Wills > no 1871-2470 > Image 15 of 2563, Solomon Dean, Last Will and Testament dated 9 February 1903; citing Department of the Attorney General, British Columbia Wills, 1861-1981. British Columbia Archives, Victoria, British Columbia.