Mesa AZ FamilySearch Library
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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Probate Records Quick Start

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Start with what you know:


(Hover over “Research Helps” tab, click “Articles”, click “Sorted by Document"

Click “Research Outline”, scroll to desired state and click)


1.      Search by the deceased [Usually heirs are not indexed.]

2.      Search broadly [Some probates may start late and last many years. See neighboring counties as necessary.]

3.      Seek and use books [official court books] and papers.

4.      Search for the following types of records [Not all of them will exist for your ancestor; but don’t miss the ones that do.]

Generally probate records are kept at the county level.

Find the county in The Handybook - 973 D27e (Reference)

Probate records may be found at the state level (possibly the state archives)

Refer to “Court Records, Probate and Wills,” The Handybook

For what years are probate records available______________________________________

Consult the Family History Library Catalog
(many probate records have been microfilmed)

  1. Click on Place Search
  2. Type name of county in top box (exclude the word county)
  3. Type the full name of the state in bottom box (exact spelling is a must)
  4. Click on Probate Records
  5. Choose probate records for the years to include when your ancestor may have died
  6. You may see docket, journal, will record, complete record, bonds, letters, abstracts
  7. First try to choose a microfilm of a records created by the county clerk, recorder, etc.
  8. Click on the “View Film Notes”
  9. Look for an index
  10. Obtain the microfilm of the index and scroll to the desired surname
  11. Carefully examine the index looking for your ancestor’s surname
  12. Record the book, volume or liber number and the page number
  13. Using the volume number, find the microfilm number in the FHLC
  14. Using the microfilm number, check to see if it is in the Mesa Family History Center
  15. If it is not here, order it in the Copy Room
  16. Once you have the microfilm of the deed book scroll to the page number you found in the index

You may need to look at microfilm of various types of probate records (see list under No. 4 above)

Read every line of each type of probate record

Keep a readable copy of the record (you may scan it and save it on a flash drive)

Record a proper citation of your source

List positive or negative searches in your research log

Important information you should record

If probate records for your ancestor’ county have not been microfilmed

Solving the Puzzle

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