Alabama, County Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
These collections consists of probate records, including case files and other documents created by the probate courts of various Alabama counties. Probates were generally recorded in the county of residence. This collection covers probate records for the years 1800 to 1976, but the content and time period of the records will vary by county. Files from Madison and Talladega counties have not been indexed, but are arranged in alphabetical order by the deceased’s name. Additional records may be added to this collection. Check the wiki or browse the collection to determine current coverage.
For a list of localities currently published in the Alabama, County Probate Records 1830-1976 collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in the Alabama Probate Records, 1809-1985 collection, select the Browse.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- County Clerks. Probate Records. County Chancery Courts.
Additional Information About Probate Records
Probate records fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. The records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents.
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.
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.
Most probate records were created on a county level, though many were later sent to the Archives. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.
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.
Genealogical facts in entries include:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Event year
- Event place
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Sometimes the date of death
How to Use the Record
To search this collection using the index:
Some of the collection may be searched by name. Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Compare the information you find in the probate records to what you already know about your ancestors to determine which record is about your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
To browse the Alabama Probate Records, 1809-1985 collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Volume Title and Year" category which takes you to the images
Indexes are included in these images. Look for your ancestor in the alphabetical list and then go to the page number to find the information about your ancestor. The page numbers are at the top of the page.
To browse the Alabama, County Probate Records 1830-1976 collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Individual name" which takes you to the images
Using the Information:
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.
- Use the recording date approximate the death date. (For example, a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)
Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this 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?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. There are often indexes created by the court or local historical and genealogical societies.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Known Issues with This Collection
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
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