State laws required that a legal notice of a probate action be posted in local newspapers. This was the state’s method to get the word out to all interested parties that an estate was going to be disbursed to the heirs and creditors.
These legal requirements varied across the country, but we can reasonably expect that the newspapers where our ancestors lived carried these probate notices.
Probate records alert you to the names of the deceased, the executor of the will and—importantly—the court where the estate was probated. With this information, you can then contact that court to obtain a copy of the complete probate file for further genealogy research. Remember that an estate might not be probated for months or even a year after a person died, so you will want to search for probate and estate records using a wide span of years.
Search for newspaper probate notices by using GenealogyBank’s new “Probate Court Records, Case Files & Legal News” search tool.
To get to this probate records search tool, begin by clicking on the “Search Newspaper Archives” link on GenealogyBank’s homepage.
Then look at the index on the left-hand side of the next page and click on the “Legal, Probate & Court” link.
This action brings you to the “Probate Court Records, Case Files & Legal News” search box.
Simply search the newspapers for the state in question for your ancestor’s probate records. I would suggest limiting the initial probate notice search to only a surname and a year. Depending on the number of search result hits that are returned, you could add additional information to narrow down your search for your deceased relative’s probate and estate records.
Use this special “Probate Court Records, Case Files & Legal News” search tool to save time and target your searches.