California Probate Estate Files - FamilySearch Historical Records

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California Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
California, 
United States
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Flag of California
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Location of California
Record Description
Record Type Probate Estate Files
Collection years 1833-1991
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
County clerk offices, county courthouses, and historical records commissions, California


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

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.

Probate records fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. Most records mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children may be given, as well as married names of daughters. Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate. The exact contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.

The collection consists of estate files of the Probate and Superior Courts in the following counties:

  • Alpine
  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Colusa

  • Glenn
  • Lassen
  • Napa
  • San Benito
  • Sacramento
  • Solano

The date ranges of the files will vary.

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 by visiting the browse page for California, Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991.

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

The following information may be found in these records:

Probate

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
  • Document and recording dates (Sometimes the date of death will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

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

Before using this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date and or location of the event

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Case File Number and Year Range to view the images.


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.

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

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

  • Use a probate record to identify guardians, heirs and relatives
  • Use a probate record to approximate a death date
  • Search for a death record or certificate
  • For earlier years, use the probate record or will to substitute for civil birth and death records
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find vital records such as birth, baptism, or marriage
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in the census
  • Use the information found in the record to find land records
  • Search for death or burial information in BillionGraves Index
  • If applicable, search for immigration and naturalization records as well

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

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching a nearby locality
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of California.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying you 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.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records/Guidelines for Articles.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.