Minnesota 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.
The court administrator of the district court in each county keeps the probate records.
Understanding the Minnesota probate laws and how they changed over time can help us learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems. Online digital versions of state statutes can often be found by conducting a search engine search for the term, "Minnesota statutes."
Many Minnesota counties have sent their older records to the State Archives Collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.
The Family History Library is acquiring microfilm copies of these records on a county-by-county basis. For more probate records, check the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
MINNESOTA, [COUNTY] – PROBATE RECORDS
Statewide Record Collections
Minnesota Will Records, 1849-1918; database, FamilySearch.org; Index to wills from Probate Courts throughout Minnesota and located at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. For collection details see Minnesota Wills 1849-1918.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."