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Alabama Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Alabama Probate Records, 1809-1985
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Alabama, United States
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Flag of Alabama
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Location of Alabama
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1809-1985
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Various county courthouses


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

The collection 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 created 1809-1985, 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.

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.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Alabama Probate Records.

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

The following information may be found in these records:

Probate

  • 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

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

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

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • The date of the event or the name of a parent or spouse

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Volume Title 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.

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 will to approximate a death date, then find a death certificate
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records for earlier years
  • Use the information to locate census, christening, marriage and land records
  • Search for military records

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

  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names, or even initials

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

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


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.
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 Records.

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