Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files - FamilySearch Historical Records
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Maryland Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of Maryland|
|Location of Maryland|
|Record Type||Probate and Guardianship|
|County Courts, Maryland.|
What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]
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.
Image Visibility[edit | edit source]
Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]
|You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]
The following information may be found in these records:
- 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
Probate records include petitions, inventories, wills, guardianship's, accounts, decrees, and other court documents.
Collection Content[edit | edit source]
Sample Images[edit | edit source]
How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of the individual
- The location or date of the event
Search the Index[edit | edit source]Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
View the Images[edit | edit source]
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 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?[edit | edit source]
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?[edit | edit source]
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Add any new information to your records
- 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?[edit | edit source]
- 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
Research Helps[edit | edit source]
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Maryland.
Related Family History Library Holdings[edit | edit source]
Related FamilySearch Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]
Related Digital Books[edit | edit source]
Known Issues[edit | edit source]
Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]
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.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.