British Columbia Estate Files - FamilySearch Historical Records

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British Columbia Estate Files, 1859-1949
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
British Columbia, Canada
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Flag of British Columbia
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
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Record Description
Record Type Probate and Estate
Collection years 1859-1949
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
British Columbia Archives and Records Service


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

These records include probate estate files for the Judicial Districts of British Columbia. The Records were created by either the County Court or the Supreme Court. The years vary by court and locality, and indexes exist for the following districts, Vancouver and Victoria. The Victoria index is found in this record collection: British Columbia Wills, 1861-1939; Index, 1861-1981.

The clerk of the court retained all original documents about a case in a probate packet or probate estate papers (also known as estate packets, case files, or estate files). The estate files contain the original wills, petitions, letters, bonds, inventories, settlements, and other records. Some or all of these documents may also have been copied in separate books. Not every locality covers the entire date range or contains every kind of probate record mentioned above.

Probate records were kept by probate or surrogate courts. Often the size of the estate determined which court held jurisdiction. Search the records of all probate courts in all places where the individual had property. Probate and estate files are especially useful when trying to prove a relationship between two or more individuals. To ensure that the property went to the correct person, relationships (such as 'son,' 'aunt,' or 'sister-in-law') were often named in detail. This is ideal for a genealogist who needs proof to move on to the next generation in a family or needs help fleshing out a complete family group. In cases where birth, marriage, and death records began too late, probate and estate records may be completely necessary to prove family connections.

The article Canada Probate Records contains more information about this collection.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for British Columbia Estate Files, 1859-1949.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The information in these records usually include the following:

Wills

  • Name of deceased
  • Death place
  • Names of children, spouse and other family members
  • Names of witnesses
  • Date of will (may include death date)

Letters of administration

  • Name of deceased
  • Date of death and place of death
  • Name of spouse and children

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The name of a relative or date of the event

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select the Judicial District/Locality
  2. Select the Court
  3. Select the Record Type, Date Range, File or Volume Numbers to view the images

Important: Please note that there are indexes available in this collection of images that were not indexed through FamilySearch. These indexes were handwritten and included in the images found in the individual folders. Find your ancestor's name and look for the page, entry, certificate number or book number next to their name. This will help you find the records you are looking for in this collection.

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • If available, check the image for additional information
  • Analyze the entry to see if it provides additional clues to find other records of the person or their family
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Consult the British Columbia Record Finder to find other records
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This can help you find possible relatives
  • Search the records of nearby areas
  • Check for other names. An individual might appear under an unexpected name for a variety of reasons:
    • They might have been listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name
    • A woman may have returned to her maiden name after the death of her husband
  • Search the indexes and records of British Columbia, Canada Genealogy
  • Search in the British Columbia Archives and Libraries
  • Search in the FamilySearch Catalog

While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, use them with some caution because:

  • They may remove the names of deceased family members or those who previously received an inheritance
  • The spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned
  • Relationships noted in the records may not have the same meaning today. (Pay special attention to in-law relationships.)

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in British Columbia.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.