North Carolina Estate Files - FamilySearch Historical Records

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North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
North Carolina, 
United States
North Carolina flag.png
Flag of North Carolina
US Locator North Carolina.png
Location of North Carolina
Record Description
Record Type Estate
Collection years 1663-1979
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


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

This is a collection of loose papers relating to the settlement of estates for the years 1663 to 1979. They cover matters such as provision for heirs, including minor children, as well as distribution of funds, land and property, and slaves. The records from various counties in North Carolina were filmed at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History.

The records include the following:

  • Administrators' bonds
  • Guardians' bonds
  • Inventories
  • Accounts of sales
  • Annual accounts
  • Allotments of years provisions
  • Settlements
  • Divisions
  • Petitions of many sorts
  • Bills and receipts

Only the estate files are contained in this collection, the wills are not included. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available. These records are organized by the County, then alphabetically by the surname with the year of probate included in parenthesis. Some of the records are faded and may be difficult to read.

Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care, and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned.

Most probate records in North Carolina were created on a county level though many were later sent to the North Carolina State Archives. For the colonial period, dozens of North Carolina wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London, England. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.  An index is being created for this collection. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979.

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.

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

The following information may be found in these records:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Probate date and place
  • 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

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Coverage Table[edit | edit source]

The coverage table shows the county, time periods covered, court and the title in the FamilySearch Catalog for this collection.

County Dates Court FamilySearch Catalog
Avery County 1916-1955 North Carolina. Superior Court (Avery County) Avery County, North Carolina estate files, ca. 1916-1955
Bute County (Bute county was discontinued in 1779 and split between Franklin and Warren Counties) 1764-1784 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Bute County, North Carolina), 1764-1784*
Catawba County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Catawba County), 1663-1978*
Cumberland County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Cumberland County), 1663-1978*
Currituck County 1663-1978 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Currituck County), 1663-1978*
Edenton District (Edenton District covered the following counties: Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Tyrrell, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck) 1756-1806 North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wills and estate papers (Edenton District), 1756-1806*
Lincoln County 1735-1914 North Carolina. Superior Court (Lincoln County) North Carolina. County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (Lincoln County), Lincoln County, North Carolina, will records, 1824-1964, will index, 1772-1964; estate records, 1735-1914*
Warren County 1772-1940 North Carolina. Superior Court (Warren County) Warren County, North Carolina, estate records

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

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The probate place

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Surname Letter
  3. Select Individual's Name and Year 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. 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

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

  • The person may be recorded with an abbreviated or variant form of their name
  • Try searching by surname only
  • Remember that spelling was generally not standardized until the early part of the 20th century

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

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

Other FamilySearch Collections[edit | edit source]

These collections may have additional materials to help you with your research.

FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Digital Library[edit | edit source]

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.