When someone dies, their estate may go through the Probate process. This record can generate data that can be helpful when researching your family. Probate Records can be of great benefit to you as you do your research. While there may be some Probate Records online, a majority of us must visit the court house to locate them. Genealogy.com defines the following:
Probate - legal process used to determine the validity of a will before the court authorizes distribution of an estate; legal process used to appoint an someone to administer the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.
Probate Records - probate records are records disposing of a deceased individual's property. They may include an individual's last will and testament, if one was made. The information you can get from probate records varies, but usually includes the name of the deceased, either the deceased's age at the time of death or birth date, property, members of the family, and the last place of residence.
My first experience with probate came when my father in law died. His assets that were not left as beneficiary to anyone had to go thru the courts. This included his house, furnishings and car. The same thing may have happened to your ancestors. Someone died and their property and assets had to go thru the courts. Guardianship of the minors had to be determined.
On the website Law.com the following is written on the defining of Probate, the process of proving a will is valid and thereafter administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. The first step is to file the purported will with the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court approve the will and appoint the executor named in the will (or if none is available, an administrator) with a declaration of a person who had signed the will as a witness. If the court determines the will is valid, the court then "admits" the will to probate.
Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society has a wonderful introductory to probate written HERE.
Another informative site is How To Read Probate Records by Dohistory
Probate records may contain the following:
- Full name
- Date and place of death
- Marital Status
- Name of spouse
- Names of children (and possibly birth order)
- Names of children's spouses of married daughters
- Names of grandchildren
- Relationships between family members
- Clues to the trade or occupation of your ancestor
- Residences of your ancestor and living descendants
- Locations (and descriptions) where your ancestor owned property
- Feelings of your ancestor toward family members
- Clues to the deaths of other family members
- Clues to adoptions or guardianships
- Inventory of items owned by the deceased
- Clues to your ancestor's economic standing (e.g. debts, property)
- Your ancestor's signature
For answers to the questions below, visit Law Facts Pamphlet by OhioBar:
What is probate? What property is not included in probate? Why is probate necessary? What does probate involve? How much does probate cost? How long does probate take? Do I need a will?