Ohio Probate Records

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United States Probate > Ohio > Ohio Probate Records


Probate records were kept in all counties from the time of each county's creation. Until the establishment of separate probate courts in 1852, these records were kept in the courts of common pleas. All of these records are valuable for determining names of family members, relationships, residences, dates of deaths, and other genealogical information. Genealogists will find more information by locating the estate file, sometimes known as the case file, probate packet, or loose papers, instead of looking only for a will. These files include wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. For more information see the Ohio County Probate Records page.


Some probate records were recorded in books. The books carry references to the estate files so that they can be found in the boxes or cabinets where they are filed at the courthouse. You can obtain copies of these records by writing to the clerk of the appropriate county.

Probate records may include:

  • Administration: Gives authority to the administrator to settle the estate.
  • Distributions: The manor in which the deceased's possessions are allocated.
  • Dower Rights: Dower rights are the rights that a non owner spouse has in the real property of his or her spouse.
  • Estate File: The file containing information about the property left by the deceased, to be dispersed between the surviving heirs.
  • Guardianship: Probate Guardianship is when the Court appoints an adult who is not the child’s parent to take care of the child or the child’s property. [1]
  • Intestate: When an individual dies without leaving a will. [2]
  • Probate Case File: All of the various loose papers that have been created throughout the probate process. These are bound together and archived by case number; they are also called a case or estate files, or probate estate papers. [3]
  • Letters of Administration: A document from a probate court allowing the administrator of an intestate estate to settle the estate. [4]
  • Letters Testamentary: A document issued by a probate court empowering the executor of the Estate to discharge the appointed responsibilities. [5]
  • Settlements: The finalized accounting of how the estate was divided among the heirs, with the heirs acknowledging they have received their fair portion and will make no other claims with the estate. [6]
  • Wills: A legal document directing how the deceased wants his or her assets bestowed on others. [7]

Most Ohio probate records are well indexed and are on microfilm or in published format at the Family History Library. The files date from the creation of each county to at least 1900 and sometimes to the 1970s.

An excellent statewide index to the names found in the earliest files is:

  • Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index [8]

Probate records are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under OHIO, [COUNTY] - PROBATE RECORDS.

Web Sites

Some counties in Ohio have probate records online. Using a search engine such as www.google.com enter the name of the county you are interested in and the words “probate records” then press “enter”.


  1. Superior Court of California County of Santa Clara
  2. Answers.com
  3. Ancestors Glossary
  4. Answers.com
  5. Answers.com
  6. Ancestors Glossary
  7. Answers.com
  8. Bell, Carol Willsey. Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index. Columbus, Ohio: C.W. Bell, 1981. (Family History Library book 977.1 P22b,  film 1035679, Item 5 or fiche 6051289)