Kentucky Probate Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Kentucky
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Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Kentucky, United States
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Flag of Kentucky
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Location of Kentucky
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1727-1990
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index of probate records from 1727 to 1990, created in Kentucky county courts. Probate records include wills, bonds, inventories of estates and other records.

Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles, such as:

  • Accounts
  • Administrations
  • Appraisals
  • Minutes
  • Petitions
  • Guardianships
  • Inventories
  • Settlements

The following is what has been indexed by county.

County # of Indexed Records Years Covered
Caldwell 3,669 1809-1968
Henry 3,078 1800-1910
Hickman 3,098 In process
Russell 1,728 In process
Trimble 858 In process


Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Wills are often placed or transcribed into a bound volume.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990.

Collection Content

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of holdings to probate and will records, click here.

Sample Image

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Probate records may include: petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, and other court documents. Information found in this collection 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 (Used to approximate event dates i.e. A will was usually written near time of death.)

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • The approximate date of death
  • The approximate date of probate
  • The place where your ancestor lived
  • The names of family members or associates who may be named in the probate record

Search the Index

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

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Volume Title and Year 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. 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.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • 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.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • Probate record may include informatio about land transactions.
  • 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 died in the same county or nearby. 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.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


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
"Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. County courthouses, Kentucky.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
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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