Wisconsin, Probate Estate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Wisconsin, Probate Estate Case Files, 1861-1933 .
- 1 Collection Time Period
- 2 Record Description
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Record History
- 5 Related Websites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
- 9 Sources of Information for This Collection
Collection Time Period
The records in this collection are for the years 1861 to 1933.
The collection consists of images of probate estate case files stored at the Wisconsin Historical Society. This collection includes the following:
- Fond du Lac County (1848-1980)
- Green County (1848-1885)
- La Crosse County (1877-1935)
- Pepin County (1900-1935)
- Shawano County (1861-1933)
- Trempealeau County (1900-1920).
The records are arranged by county and then by date. The images are being published as they become available.
These files normally included wills, settlement papers, inventories, receipts, and other records pertaining to the estates. Some probate records were recorded in books which may have carried many titles such as accounts, administrations, appraisals, minutes, petitions, guardianships, inventories, settlements, and so forth.
Probate records or succession records include petitions, successions, inventories, accounts, decrees and other court documents.
Genealogical facts found in these records include:
- Name of testator or deceased
- Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
- Name of executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Residence of testator
- Document and recording dates (Used to approximate event dates, i.e. a will was usually written near time of death)
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The place of residence
- The approximate death or probate date
- The name of the deceased
Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
- Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
- You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Probate records were generally recorded in the county where the person resided. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills were more likely to have been found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
Why the Record Was Created
Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, 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 proceeding are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members, those who have previously received an inheritance, or the spouse mentioned in a will may not be the parent of the children mentioned. Some wills do not name family members.
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
| 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.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from the record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find th record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you do not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched in found in the Wiki Article: Help:How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
"Wisconsin, Probate Estate Case Files, 1861-1933." index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed 13 April, 2011. entry for Joseph Lindner, will probated 5 November 1921; citing Probate Records, Shawano, Case no. 1820-1849, 1922, image 73; Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.
Sources of Information for This Collection
Wisconsin. Probate Estate Case Files, 1861-1933. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison.