North Carolina Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|North Carolina, United States|
|Flag of North Carolina|
|Location of North Carolina|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can this Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing This Collection
- 8 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in the Collection?
This is a collection of loose papers relating to the settlement of estates for the years 1663 to 1979. They cover matters such as provision for heirs, including minor children, as well as distribution of funds, land and property, and slaves. The records from various counties in North Carolina were filmed at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
The records include the following:
- Administrators' bonds
- Guardians' bonds
- Accounts of sales
- Annual accounts
- Allotments of years provisions
- Petitions of many sorts
- Bills and receipts
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979.|
The coverage table shows the county, time periods covered, court and the title in the FamilySearch Catalog for this collection.
|County||Dates||Court||Title in FamilySearch Catalog|
|Lincoln County||1735-1914|| North Carolina. Superior Court (Lincoln County)
North Carolina. County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (Lincoln County)
|Lincoln County, North Carolina, will records, 1824-1964, will index, 1772-1964; estate records, 1735-1914*|
|Bute County (Bute county was discontinued in 1779 and split between Franklin and Warren Counties)||1764-1784||North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina)||Wills and estate papers (Bute County, North Carolina), 1764-1784*|
|Catawba County||1663-1978||North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina)||Wills and estate papers (Catawba County), 1663-1978*|
|Cumberland County||1663-1978||North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina)||Wills and estate papers (Cumberland County), 1663-1978*|
|Currituck County||1663-1978||North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina)||Wills and estate papers (Currituck County), 1663-1978*|
|Edenton District (Edenton District covered the following counties: Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Tyrrell, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck)||1756-1806||North Carolina. Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina)||Wills and estate papers (Edenton District), 1756-1806*|
|Warren County||1772-1940||North Carolina. Superior Court (Warren County)||Warren County, North Carolina, estate records|
|Avery County||1916-1955||North Carolina. Superior Court (Avery County)||Avery County, North Carolina estate files, ca. 1916-1955|
Only the estate files are contained in this collection, the wills are not included. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.
These records are organized by the County, then alphabetically by the surname with the year of probate included in parenthesis. Some of the records are faded and may be difficult to read.
The North Carolina State Genealogical Society has partnered with FamilySearch to index these records. The estate records for the years 1669-1759 has a microfilmed index available at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. 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, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.
The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned.
Most probate records in North Carolina were created on a county level though many were later sent to the North Carolina State Archives. For the colonial period, dozens of North Carolina wills were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London, England. The contents of probate records vary greatly depending on the prevailing law and the personality of the record keeper. An index is being created for this collection. Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
What Can this Collection Tell Me?
Probate records usually include the following kinds of information. Be aware that not all information may be found in every record:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Probate date and place
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
- Document and recording dates.
- Sometimes the date of death
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search you will need to know:
- The name of the deceased.
- The approximate death or probate date.
- The probate place.
Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Surname Letter" category
⇒ Select the "Individual's Name and Year" category which takes you to the images
Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
With either search keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
What Do I Do Next?
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. Add this new information to your records of each family.
I Found What I was Looking for, What Now?
- Use the document recording dates to approximate a death date if you do not already have one.
- Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
- Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions and adoptions or guardianships 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. It can help you to organize the names into families.
- 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.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
- If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for check for variant spellings of the surnames.
I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?
- 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.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword North Carolina, Probate Records items in the FamilySearch Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article North Carolina Archives and Libraries.|
Known Issues with This Collection
| Problems with this collection?|
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, plea se email them to email@example.com. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
Citing This Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1979" Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Division of Archives and History. State Archives, Raleigh.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.