Germany Probate Records

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Probate Records

Probate records and wills [Testamente] are court records that deal with the distribution of a person's estate after death. Information in probate records may include the deceased person's death date and occupation; relationships, residences and names of heirs and guardians; an inventory of the estate; and names of witnesses.

Probate records can supplement and clarify information found in parish registers and civil registration records. Depending on location and time period, they may only be available for a small segment of the local population. Most farmers, merchants, and artisans did not own their own farms or shops and did not leave wills. Relatively few probate records have been microfilmed, so they may need to be used in local and regional German archives. They are often not indexed and require relatively good reading skills. However, some German probate records are very old, as early as the 1300s, and occasionally they provide information found nowhere else.

Original probate records can still be found in state and town archives or local courts [Amtsgericht]. You can write to a city or state archive and request a search of their probate records for your ancestor if you believe that he left an estate.

The Family History Library has relatively few probate records for Germany. They may be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under various subject headings, including civil registration, court records, probate records, or public records.

Types of probate records

Probate records include various types of documents and files, including

  • inventories of estates for the purpose of assuring equitable inheritance for the decedent's children
  • guardianship records
  • wills
  • persons requesting the right to manage their own financial assets [mostly young people who are now of age, some women]

Inventur- und Teilungsakten

These are official probate records. They were established for heritages, handing over a farm, entering marriages or conducting bankrupcies. In such cases an inventory of the entire property was taken. The lists contain all possessions of a man or a woman, starting with real estate and ending with provisions.

Such lists were created by the mayor and three judges (Waisenrichter) who were installed to over-see the interests of minors and act as guardians to those who could not properly represent themselves. The lists then went to the scribes of the Ämter, who portrayed all active and passive property and compared it to the obligations in order to achive a real overview of the capital. After all this effort the remaining capital was then distributed among the heirs.

Click here to see 9 sample entries of a couple's probate 

Click here to see 3 sample entries of a deceased couple's probate.


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