This collection consists primarily of indexes to the records. The full records are typically found at the local courthouse in the area where your ancestor lived. In some cases, you may also find records in state archives. Local genealogical and historical societies may have transcriptions of certain court records as well.
When you locate your ancestor in an index, be sure to locate the complete record, provided it still exists. Court records are typically rich in detail and can sometimes provide insights not found anywhere else. In the case of probate records, which may have been created over several years, multiple documents such as a will, estate description, guardianship papers, petitions, affidavits, and more, may be included in the packet.
The wills, estate, and guardianship records are a rich legacy left to you by your ancestors.
They will typically contain names of family members and relationships as well as a look at your ancestor’s financial standing. In cases where minor children were involved, guardianship records reveal who assumed responsibility for those children.
- Wills and estate records often provide important details about a person’s family, including dates of birth or death and confirmation about family relationships. If you find a transcription or index entry, click on "Learn more" from the search result to learn how to order a copy of the original record.
- Because many people shared the same names, it may be difficult to tell if a record is for your ancestor, even if it was created in a place where they lived. It can be helpful to research other people listed in the record for clues about their possible relationship to your family.
- Don’t overlook records where an ancestor’s name appears as a witness or guardian in an estate record. A guardian appointed on behalf of a minor might have been a relative or close friend of the family. Researching other names found in your family’s estate may lead you to other family members.