New York Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: New York Probate Records,1629-1971 .
This Collection will include records from 1629 to 1971.
The records are images from probate records in various county Surrogate Courts in New York. The content of the probate records and their year range vary by county. Most records end in the 1920s with some indexes continuing to the year 1971. This collection does not include records from metropolitan New York at this time. Records in this collection include:
- Executor and administrator accounts
- Administrators bonds
- Oaths to inventory and other loose papers
- Appraiser appointments and letters
- Guardianship letters
- Real estate decrees and sales
- Letters testamentary
- Books of dower
- Registers and indexes of undertaking
- Judicial statements
New York has a complicated history regarding the recording of probates. Before 1787, probates were handled by a variety of courts whose jurisdictions changed often.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix:
- Legal responsibility for payment of taxes
- Care and custody of dependent family members
- Liquidation of debts
- Transfer of property title to heirs
These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information.
Information that my be found in the records include:
- Name of the deceased
- Death date
- Age or birth date
- Name of spouse
- Names of children, parents, siblings, or other relatives
- Adoption or guardianships
- Neighbors and associates
How to Use the Record
To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒ Select the County ⇒ Select the Volume Title and Year which takes you to the images.
Look at the images 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.
When you begin your search, it is helpful to know the following:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
- 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 employment records or other types of records such as military records.
- 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.
Keep in mind:
- 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.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Known Issues with This Collection
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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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. |
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Citing FamilySearch 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: New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971
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 Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- New York Surrogate's Courts. New York, probate records. Surrogate Courts in New York.