Understanding Probate Records

Posted April 7, 2011 by Amanda | One Comment

Probate records are an excellent source of genealogical information. Today, let’s take a closer look at probate records and how they can help enrich your genealogy research.

What are probate records?

Probate records are documents compiled by a court after someone has died regarding the division of their estate. Among some of the documents you may find in your ancestor’s probate records are:

  • A death certificate
  • Will
  • Guardian ship petitions for minor children
  • List of heirs
  • List if creditors
  • Estate inventories
  • Documents recording the distribution of assets
  • The appointment of executors
  • Land records

How can these records help me?

In these documents, you will find the full name of the deceased and the date and place of death. You may also find their marital status, name of their spouse, children and grandchildren, citizenship, clues to other family members and clues to their economic standing. Also, pay attention to what was willed to specific relatives for clues into the relationship between family members. You may also want to locate the probate records for other relatives, which may provide  you with even more clues about your ancestry.

How can I find probate records?

Check out the local or county courthouse where your relative died. If you are searching for a much older court record, you may also find it in state archives. You may also try contacting local genealogical societies to help you locate these records. Online databases, such as Family Search may also prove very useful.

Once you locate these records, upload them to your family tree on Geni and share them with others!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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