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Illinois Probate Records

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Portal:United States Probate >Illinois

Record Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Probate encompasses all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, whether there is a will (testate) or not (intestate). 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.


  • Those named in the will are not necessarily related to the testator.
    * A wife is not necessarily the mother of the children named.
    * Probate records can be filed in more than one cabinet, ledger, or packet and in more than one office.

Probate records may not give an exact death date, but the death most often occurred within a few months of the date of probate. Wills usually mention the names of heirs and frequently specify how those heirs are related. Names of children are given, as well as married names of daughters.

Jurisdictions[edit | edit source]

Clerk of County's Commissioners' Court (1819 - 1821)
County Probate Court (1821 - 1848)
County Probate Court (for counties with 50,000+ population) (1870 - 1964)
County Court (1848 - 1964)
Circuit Court (1964 - present)

Obtaining the Records[edit | edit source]

State Repositories

The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories includes some online Illinois probate indexes.

National Repositories

The Family History Library has microfilmed many Illinois probate records, generally from the date of the county’s creation until the early 1900s. Probate records may include such documents as wills, letters of administration, guardianships, probate journals, probate packets, and adoptions. The probate packets, which contain all documents pertaining to a probate case, have the most genealogical information, but are not always available at the Family History Library. Probate records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:




Web Sites

Learn More[edit | edit source]

  • Anne Roach, Courthouse Records Overview (35 minute online video) FamilySearch Research Classes Online, 2010.
  • Eichholz, Alice, Editor. Redbook: American State, County, and Town Sources. Third Edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004. (See page 185.)
  • North, Levi. A Treatise on the Practice in Probate Courts in the Probate of Wills and Settlement of Estates...'Illinois....Chicago: Callaghan & Company, 1875. Available free online.
  • Rose, Christine.Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2004.

Click on the following links to wiki articles for additional information on probate records: