Kentucky Probate Records
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. For further information about the probate process, types of probate records, analyzing probate records, and to access a glossary of probate terms, see United States Probate Records.
A brief history of the settlement and boundary changes of Kentucky and the resultant effects on record keeping can be found on Ancestry.
- Probate records of Kentucky are kept by the county clerk.
- Copies of probate records are also available at the Department of Libraries and Archives and the Kentucky Historical Society.
- The Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah Kentucky probate records available on microfilm. For collection details see the Family History Library Catalog. Use the "Place Search" option to search for a specific Kentucky county. Then look for topics labeled "Probate Records" or "Guardianship."
Statewide Record Collections
- Index to Kentucky Wills to 1851, the Testators. Salt Lake City, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1979. FHL 976.9 P22i This index shows the testator’s name, county, year of the will, volume, and page number.
- King, Junie Estelle Stewart. Abstract[s] of Early Kentucky Wills and Inventories. 1933; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1961. FHL 976.9 P28k; FHL 897212 item 5; FHL 6051356 Includes surname index. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
Bennett, R. Terry, Sean E. Mumaw and National Business Business Institute. Kentucky Probate: Beyond the Basics. Eau Claire, WI : NBI, Inc., ©2005. WorldCat entry.
- A discussion of Kentucky Probate Records written by Wendy Bebout Elliott for Red book: American State, County, and Town Sources can be found at Ancestry.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."