California Probate Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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California, Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
California, United States
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Location of California
Record Description
Record Type Probate Estate Files
Collection years 1833-1991
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What Is in the Collection?

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.

Probate records fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. 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. The exact contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper.

The collection consists of estate files of the Probate and Superior Courts in the following counties:

  • Alpine
  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Colusa
  • Glenn
  • Lassen
  • Napa
  • San Benito
  • Sacramento
  • Solano

The date ranges of the files will vary.


To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Information found in this collection may include:

  • 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.)


Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before using this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The approximate date and or location of the event.

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select County
  2. Select Case File Number and Year Range which takes you to the images.


How Do I Analyze the Results?

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?

If these are indexes, the original records may contain additional information than was not indexed, or the information might have been indexed incorrectly. You may want to search for the original record at the County Clerks Offices.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

records.

  • Search for death or burial information in BillionGraves Index.
  • If applicable, search for immigration and naturalization records as well.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching a nearby locality.
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Check the infobox above for additional FamilySearch websites and related websites that may assist you in finding similar records.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying you sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"California Probate Estate Files, 1833-1991." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. County clerk offices, county courthouses, and historical records commissions, California.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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.