Probate records can be some of the richest genealogical resources. Yes, they can contain wills, but often the best information comes from the other records in the packets—and our ancestors didn’t even have to die to make an appearance in a probate action. Learn about how to find probate records online and mine them for genealogical gems.
Probate Records, Genealogy’s Goldmines
Probate is the lawful process that gives a deceased person’s property to another person or persons. Control of this transfer of property from the deceased to living persons can either be testate – the deceased left a will which governs how the property is to be disposed of – or it can be intestate – there was no will and the law and the Probate Court decides the disposition of property. Both methods can be gold mines of genealogical information. They usually tell the decedent’s date and place of death, and information about family members and relationships is routinely revealed. It is often possible to identify parents or children of the deceased, and sometimes several generations can be identified. References to religious affiliation or bequests of land ownership provides guidance to research in church or land records. Inventories and bequests can give you some idea of the financial status of the family and sometimes provide a peek into how the family lived. This program uses real examples to explain the different kinds of probate records that you are likely to encounter in your research, as well as where the records can be found and the types of information that each kind of record may provide
Jack Butler is a professional genealogist, lecturer and author. Active in serious genealogical research for more nearly 20 years, Jack is also active in the genealogy community. In addition to being a frequent speaker at Genealogical Societies and Conferences around Florida, he is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and former President of the Florida Chapter of the APG.