California Probate Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: California, Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991 .
- 1 Record Description
- 2 Record Content
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Related Websites
- 5 Related Wiki Articles
- 6 Contributions to This Article
- 7 Citing Family Search Historical Collections
Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.
Probate records fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. Most records mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children may be given, as well as married names of daughters. Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate. The exact contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.
The collection consists of estate files of the Probate and Superior Courts in the following counties:
- San Benito
The date ranges of the files will vary.
For a list of records by localities, case number and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Information found in this collection may include:
- 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 and recording dates (Sometimes the date of death will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The name of the deceased
- The approximate death or probate date
Search the Collection
To search the collection:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County" link
⇒Select the appropriate "Case File Number and Year Range" which takes you to the images
Search the collection by image 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.
Using the Information
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.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
- 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 records or military records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- 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 also died in california. 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.
- Probate records often have information about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents. Be aware that the spouse named may not be the parent of the children listed.
- The records may omit the names of deceased family members and those who have previously received an inheritance.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
- The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
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 Family Search Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: California, Probate Estate Files,1833-1991
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 for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "California, Probate Estate Files,1833-1991." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.