Oregon 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.
Probate courts handled probate matters during the Oregon Territory period.
Many early probate files are held at the Oregon State Archives. Staff have produced an inventory and created links to digitized records. Since 1859 the probate judge in each county has had jurisdiction over wills and the disposition of estates. Although some records are in the circuit court, the majority are kept by the clerk of each county court. The Family History Library has microfilmed many of these records.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."