Probate records and wills are available online from all over the U.S. and are what I consider another hidden gem of information that can assist you in advancing your family history and genealogy research.
What can you find in these records? How about the date of death, spouse’s and children’s names, birth order, siblings and siblings’ spouses, parent’s names, and residence locations for all named persons. Also, ownership of land and/or other significant property, business names and occupation, military service, guardianships, and adoptions. Basically, anything owned by the deceased is typically listed and to whom it is to be assigned.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on the probate process – all I know is that I have discovered an amazing amount of good information from probate records and wills as part of my personal genealogy research.
Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching probate documents and wills:
- FamilySearch – United States Probate Records
- Wills and Probate Records are Genealogy Riches
- How to Use Wills and Estate Records to Learn About Your Ancestors
- Probate Records Could Be the Key to Unlocking Your Family’s Hidden Past
Most records are still in paper form or have been microfilmed. There is a very large amount online, however, and I am capturing those links to free collections and they are below. Some of the paid subscription sites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage have probate record collections also.
Below are links to probate records, wills, and index collections available for free online for states in the region.
(Updated June 2023)
- Free Delaware Probate Records and Wills
- Free District of Columbia Probate Records and Wills
- Free Maryland Probate Records and Wills
- Free New Jersey Probate Records and Wills
- Free New York Probate Records and Wills
- Free Pennsylvania Probate Records and Wills
- Free Virginia Probate Records and Wills
- Free West Virginia Probate Records and Wills
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!