California, County Probate Books - FamilySearch Historical Records

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
California, 
United States
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Flag of California
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Location of California
Record Description
Record Type Probate Records
Collection years 1850-1950
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of county probate books. The records include bonds, calendars, inventories, journals, letters of administration and testamentary, minutes, orders and decrees, proceedings, registers of actions and wills, etc. Counties currently included in the collection are:

  • Alpine
  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Colusa
  • Glenn
  • Kern
  • Lake

  • Lassen
  • Los Angeles
  • Mendocino
  • Sacramento
  • San Benito
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Clara

  • Solano
  • Stanislaus
  • Sutter
  • Yolo
  • Yuba

Probate records fall into two general categories: wills and estate papers. The records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents. Probate records may not give an exact death date, but a death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate.

Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator. The spouse mentioned may not be the parent of the children mentioned.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You will be able to browse through images in this collection when it is published.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The records may include:

  • The name of testator or deceased
  • The event year
  • The event place
  • The names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the deceased
  • The place of residence at the time of death
  • The approximate death or probate date

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

You will be able to search this collection when it is published.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Record Type, Year Range and Volume Number or Letter to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use a probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives
  • Use a probate record to approximate a death date, then search for a death certificate
  • For earlier years, use the probate record or will to substitute for civil birth and death records
  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find county or vital records such as birth, baptism, and marriage, records
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in census records
  • If applicable, search for immigration and naturalization records as well

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching a nearby locality
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names, or even initials

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of California.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.


How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

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 Historical Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.