West Virginia Will Books - FamilySearch Historical Records
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971 .
- 1 Record Description
- 2 Record Content
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Known Issues with This Collection
- 5 Related Websites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Citations for This Collection
Record Description[edit | edit source]
The collection includes the index and images for will books from all 55 counties of West Virginia. The records cover the years 1756 to 1971.
|You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971.|
Record Content[edit | edit source]
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents. Information in entries includes:
- 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.)
How to Use the Record[edit | edit source]
To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The name of the deceased.
- The place of residence.
- The approximate death or probate date.
Search the Collection[edit | edit source]
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Event County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Description" 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.
With either search 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 tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
Using the Information[edit | edit source]
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
- Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
- Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
- Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.
Tips to Keep in Mind[edit | edit source]
- Compiling a list of the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?[edit | edit source]
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword West Virginia, Probate Records items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article West Virginia Archives and Libraries. For additional information about this state see the wiki article West Virginia.|
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Additional Information About These Records[edit | edit source]
Probate records are usually created on a county level and most counties began recording them as soon as the county was created. They fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers.
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.
The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members and those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned may not be the parent of the children mentioned.
Known Issues with This Collection[edit | edit source]
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to email@example.com. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
Related Websites[edit | edit source]
Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]
Contributions to This Article[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.|
Citations for This Collection[edit | edit source]
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
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