Working with Probate Records

Kathy Morrow put together a wonderful list of resources for working with probate records.

Why is working with probate records so important? Let’s face it, most of the people we research as genealogists are deceased. A probate record, the court-supervised process of validating a deceased’s will, can be very helpful in finding relations to that person, in discovering land holdings, or gleaning that nugget of information that will help you break through a persistent brick-wall. Knowing how these records work, how to find them, and the easiest way to navigate through the process can make these invaluable records a wonderful resource for your research.

Probate is the court-supervised process of validating a will if the deceased made one. Probate steps are similar even if there isn’t a will, and includes identifying assets and determining their value, paying outstanding bills and taxes, determining the care of dependents, and distributing the remainder of the estate to their rightful beneficiaries. Each state has specific laws in place, and there is generally a special probate court with its own judge. (Source: What is probate?)


For Beginners

Genealogy Terms

  • Testate: a person who died having made and left a legally valid will
  • Intestate: a person who died having made no will, or whose will is found not legally valid.

Quick Tips and Favorite Links

Have a useful genealogy site or resource?   Let us know and we’ll be glad to share it.

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