Oklahoma Probate Records
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents.
Prior to statehood (1907), Oklahoma probate records were kept by the U.S. district courts. The probate records are now under the jurisdiction of probate or county courts. The files include wills, dockets, administrator's records, guardianship records, inventories, appraisements, sales records, minutes, and journals.
Searching Probate Records
It is usually best to start a probate search at the county level. Links to county pages appear below. Additional resources for Oklahoma probates may be found in the Oklahoma-Probate topic page of the Family History Library catalog (FHLC). Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Also find Oklahoma Probate resources available at many libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FHLC.
You may obtain copies of the records by contacting the clerk's office in each county. Many Indian probate records are at the National Archives—Central Plains Region. The Family History Library has copies of probate records from some counties.
Probate Records 1887-2008: Available from the FamilySearch Historical Record Collection
For information on the names of non-natives, Native Americans, and “freedmen” (free blacks) who filed probate papers in the U.S. Federal Court, Northern District, Indian Territory, see:
- Opha Jewell Wever and Rosalie Wagner, Probate Records, 1892-1908, Northern District Cherokee Nation. 2 vols. Vinita, Oklahoma: Northeast Oklahoma Genealogical Society, 1982-1983.
Understanding the Oklahoma probate laws and how they changed over time can help us learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems.
Online digital versions of state statutes can often be found by conducting a search engine search for the term, "Oklahoma statutes."
Oklahoma Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.
- NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into the FamilySearch Wiki and is being updated as time permits.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."