Denmark, Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at
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Flag of Denmark
DK Counties 1793-1808.jpg
Map of Denmark, 1793-1970
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Location of Denmark
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years: 1854-1926
Language: Danish
Title in the Language: Danmark, Skifteprotokoller 1854-1926
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
The Danish National Archives

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

This collection includes probate records for the years 1854 to 1926.

Be aware:

  • These records are in Danish; see the section "For Help Reading These Records" below for translation helps.
  • Many records have been negatively affected by poor storage conditions, poor ink quality and general wear-and-tear.

Probate records are court records that describe the transfer of a person's possessions after death. They were created before birth and death records in some areas, which makes them especially valuable for finding ancestors in early years. Information in the records may include the death date, names of heirs and guardians, relationships, residences, an inventory of the estate, and names of witnesses. The document was signed by all heirs or their guardians and by the probating authority.

Not every person who died had a probate record. Before 1900, men having property were more likely to have a probate than women. The probate law of 1683 stated that probate was necessary if a parent died and left children under the age of 25. Often an estate was probated even if the children were of age. No probate was held if there was estimated to be insufficient money to pay the expenses of probating the estate.

Probate records for clergy, schoolteachers, and military officers were often kept separate from the regular probate jurisdiction. Church officials would manage the probate for a priest or a schoolteacher, and a commanding officer would manage probate for a military officer.

Although they are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical information, the relationships noted in the records may not always have the same meaning today. For instance, a brother-in-law may be recorded as a brother, because legally that made no difference.

Danish Probate records are available for viewing after 75 years from creation year.

For a more comprehensive history of the probate process, record availability, guardianship records, and list of commonly used words, go to the wiki article Denmark Probate Records.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Danish probate records may contain the following information:

  • Names of the deceased
  • Name of surviving spouse and inheritors (including children, siblings, former spouse)
  • Names of guardians
  • Names of witnesses (often the heirs)
  • List of household goods and property
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Date and place of death
  • Listing of any expenses to be paid

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

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name of the deceased (navn)
  • Estimated death year (dødsdato)
  • County of residence (amt)
  • Parish of residence (sogn)
  • Town, city and/or street of residence (byen or stednavn)

To search the collection:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the 'Archive' category
⇒ Select the 'Series and title' category
⇒ Select the 'Volume and year' category which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

For Help Reading These Records[edit | edit source]

These records are in Danish with the exception of Schleswig and parts of northern Jutland where some records may be in German. A basic understanding of the Danish language is needed to read the records.

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

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use residence and names to locate church, land, and census records leading to relatives names.
  • Use death date and age to calculate birth and marriage dates for finding vital records.
  • Use clues of debts paid to locate documents naming relatives.

Tips to Keep in Mind[edit | edit source]

To find your ancestor within a probate record, a basic understanding of Danish language and naming traditions is necessary. See the articles: Danish Genealogical Word List, Denmark Languages, and Danish Naming Traditions.

When searching court records, it is important to remember the following:

  • Probate documents were signed by all heirs or guardians and by probate authority
  • Relationships may not be accurate (brother-in-law may be listed as brother)
  • Women are usually listed by their maiden surnames (until the late 1800's, depending on the individual).
  • By the late 1800's some families started using a "family" surname. This name might be the last name of the head of household, the last name of the father of head of household, or a place name.
  • Given names may not always be spelled exactly the same or be as complete as those recorded in vital records.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Information may be incorrect.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?[edit | edit source]

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the records of nearby judicial districts, parishes or counties.

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

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

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.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
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.