Iowa Probate Records

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Probate Records Gotoarrow.png  Iowa Probate

Links to Probate-related Topics

Analyzing Probate · Probate Limitations · Probate Process
 · Glossary of Probate Terms · Wills · United States Probate Records

Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of any dependents. These documents are important to family history researchers because they usually exist for time periods before civil birth and death records were kept. While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they have limitations.


Iowa probate records date from about 1834, when the first county in the state was created. A probate court was created in each county when Iowa became an organized territory. These courts were responsible for settling estates. Probate courts were eventually discontinued, and probate matters have since been the responsibility of the district courts. Before 1887 some probate cases were settled in circuit courts and from 1851 to 1868, some in county courts. You can write to the clerk of the district court for copies of wills, administrations, dockets, calendars, and other records.

Obtaining the Records

National Repositories

The Family History Library has microfilm and microfiche copies of many probate records, including some will records as late as the 1970s and indexes to the 1990s.

  • A quick overview of probate records that can be found at the Family History Library can be seen in this list.

Probate records are listed in the Locality Search of the The Family History Library Catalog under:


Web Sites

  • Sampubco A gateway to Indexes of Will, Guardianships, Probate Records, and Letters Testamentary for some Iowa counties.
  • The Iowa GenWeb Project A cooperative volunteer effort with links to resources for the state and counties.

Learn More

  • Anne Roach, Courthouse Records Overview (35 minute online video) FamilySearch Research Classes Online, 2010.
  • Eichholz, Alice, Editor. Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources. Third Edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004. (See page 216.)
  • Rose, Christine. Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2004.

Click on the following links to wiki articles for additional information on probate records: