Ohio Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
How To Use This Record
Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives. Probate records may contain person’s death date, the names of family members, family relationships, and residences. Use this information to search for information in other records. You may learn about adoptions or guardianship of minor children and dependents. You may have to use probate records as a substitute for civil birth and death records because they exist for an earlier time period.
Why This Record Was Created
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.
Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Until the establishment of separate probate courts in 1852, probate records were kept in the Courts of Common Pleas. In 2005, probate courts in Ohio are a special division of the Court of Common Pleas.
Probate records were court documents and may have involved loose papers and/or bound volumes. These records were generally known as a case file or probate packet. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles such as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth. Wills are normally transcribed into a bound volume.
County probate records were kept from the time a county was formed to the present.
Probate records are generally recorded in the county where the person resided. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Genealogical facts in entries are:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Document and recording dates. (There are used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near time of death.)
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. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members.