New York Probate Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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New York Probate Records, 1629-1971
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
New York, 
United States
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Flag of New York
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Location of New York
Record Description
Record Type Probate
Collection years 1629-1971
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Multiple county courthouses, New York


What is In This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The records are probate records in various county Surrogate Courts in New York. The content of the probate records and their year range vary by county. Most records end in the 1920s with some indexes continuing to the year 1971. This collection does not include records from metropolitan New York at this time.

Records in this collection include:

  • Wills
  • Executor and administrator accounts
  • Petitions
  • Administrators bonds
  • Oaths to inventory and other loose papers
  • Appraiser appointments and letters
  • Guardianship letters
  • Real estate decrees and sales
  • Letters testamentary
  • Books of dower
  • Registers and indexes of undertaking
  • Judicial statements

New York has a complicated history regarding the recording of probates. Before 1787, probates were handled by a variety of courts whose jurisdictions changed often.

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:

  • Legal responsibility for payment of taxes
  • Care and custody of dependent family members
  • Liquidation of debts
  • Transfer of property title to heirs

These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information.

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 New York Probate Records,1629-1971.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Death date
  • Age or birth date
  • Name of spouse
  • Names of children, parents, siblings, or other relatives
  • Adoption or guardianships
  • Neighbors and associates
  • Residence
  • Occupations

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 your ancestor
  • Identifying information such as age, place of residence or names of other family members

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Volume Title and Year to view the 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 Next?[edit | edit source]

When you have located your ancestor’s 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.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records, since the probates exist for an earlier time period
  • Search for the family in census, church, and land records
  • Search for military records
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about
Land transactions
adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents
  • 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
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities
  • Consult the New York Record Finder to find other records

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of New York.

Known Issues[edit | edit source]

Click here for a list of known issues with this collection.

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.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.