Illinois Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1988
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Illinois, United States|
|Flag of Illinois|
|Location of Illinois|
- 1 What is in This Collection?
- 2 What Can These Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Citing this Collection
- 7 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in This Collection?
The collection consists of images to probate records, which includes wills, and other documents for the years 1819 to 1988, but the content and time period will vary by county. Probate records were created to track the distribution of estates of deceased individuals who lived in Illinois.
General Information About Probate Records
County officials began keeping probate records from the time the county was formed. Probates are generally recorded in the county were the person resided. These records cover approximately 40 percent of adult males who left wills, but this may be less than 25 percent in some areas. Less than 10 percent of women had wills or estate inventories. Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. A higher percentage of individuals died without a will, but they may have had their estates probated and distributed through the courts. Wills and other estate documents are found in the estate files.
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.
To Browse This Collection
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1988.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents. Information in the entries may include:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Document and recording dates
The coverage table shows the places and time periods covered in the records for this collection. Most of the records in the collection are from the time periods listed in the table; however, the collection may have a few records from before or after the time period. This table is current as of October 2011.
|Name of County||Recorded Year Range||Will Registers||Probate Records||Bonds and Letters|
N/A = Not available at this time.
How Do I Search This Collection?
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor
- The approximate date of death
- The approximate date of probate
- The names of family members who may be named in the probate
View the Images
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
- Select the County
- Select the Record Type, Volume, and Year Range to view the images.
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1970. Some catalog records link to multiple references. In this case, click on a reference to find a camera icon to see 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. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?
When you have located your ancestor’s probate 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.
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives
- 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
- 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 also died in the same county. 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
- Probate records often have information about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents. Be aware that the spouse named may not be the parent of the children listed
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames
- Search records in nearby towns or counties
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Illinois.
Citing this Collection
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
- "Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1988." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. County courthouses, Illinois.
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?
| 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.