Iowa Probate Records

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Portal:United States Probate >Iowa

Iowa probate records date from about 1834, when the first county in the state was created. Probate records are an important source for family history research and are one of the best ways to link individuals to their parents, children and sometimes to brothers, sisters, and grandchildren. They may not give an exact death date, but you can assume the death generally occurred within a few months of the date of probate. Wills usually mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children may be given, as well as married names of daughters. See the United States Research Outline for more information about probate records.

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. Probate records may include guardianship records.

You can write to the clerk of the district court for copies of wills, administrations, dockets, calendars, and other records.

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.

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




Iowa Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.