Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Maryland, United States|
|Flag of Maryland|
|Location of Maryland|
|Record Type||Probate and Guardianship|
|County Courts, Maryland.|
- 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 Now?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing This Collection
- 8 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in This Collection?
The collection includes name indexes and images of probate estate files from county offices for the years 1779 to 1940. The exact offices differ by county.
Currently, the following are included in this collection:
- Allegany County (1779-1946)
- Baltimore City (1920-1941)
- Calvert County (1882-1940)
- Caroline County (1838-1940)
- Cecil County (1851-1940)
- Garrett County (1920-1940)
- Kent County (1749-1940)
- Prince George's County (1796-1940)
- Queen Anne's County (1833-1940)
- Somerset County (1789-1946)
- Wicomico County (1868-1940)
The loose records were generally known as a case file or a probate packet. These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates.
Some probate records were recorded in books that may have been labeled with such titles as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, or settlements.Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Orphan’s Court was the name of the probate court at the county level. Probate records were generally recorded in the county where the person lived. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills were more likely to have been found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.
The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.
Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. Images in this collection are available for viewing if you are a registered FamilySearch user. You can register for a free FamilySearch account here.
For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.
To Browse This Collection
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?
Probate records include petitions, inventories, wills, guardianships, accounts, decrees, and other court documents. They include the following information:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Names of heirs, such as spouse, children, relatives, and friends
- Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Dates the documents were written and recorded
How Do I Search This Collection?
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of the individual
- The location or date of the event
Search the Index
View the Images
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
- Select the County
- Select the Surname Letter
- Select the Individual's Name and File Number to view the images.
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940. Some catalog records link to multiple digital image records. In this case, click on a digital image record 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 Now?
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?
- Use a Probate record to identify adoptions, 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 find other church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records. Also search for immigration, military, land and probate records
- Use the information to find additional family members in census records
- Search church records
I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?
- Try viewing the original record. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name
- If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives 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 in an area search
- Try variant spellings of your ancestor’s name
- Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.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
"Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940." Database and images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. County courts, Maryland.
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
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.