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Genealogy: Wills and Probates

Information About Wills & Probate Records

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Delaware Sources

In Delaware, wills are available in each county at the appropriate office, usually called register of wills.

Probate records are kept at the county office and then sent to the Delaware Public Archives.

Copies of records may also be available at FamilySearch and the Family History Library (LDS).

Compilations of Laws

About Wills and Probates

Wills and the court records associated with the legal process of proving them (probate) and with settling estates are important resources for genealogy and other history researchers. They can provide details about a family's standard of living, property, household members, friends, and the legal position of women and minors in the household. Depending on the testator (will writer) and the time period, there may be information about slaves, religious affiliation, and level of formal education.

Wills and the process of carrying them out are function of state government; there is much variation by state and by time period.

Search Hints

Probate is a better search term than wills

In books, Wills and Probates are often grouped under "court records"

 

Related guides:

Starting Point

Starting Point: Delaware

Wills Can Suggest Family Relationships

Will, Delia M. Wilson, Georgetown, Sussex County, 1919; part of Delaware Public Archives exhibit: 100 stories.

...One Cent, and no more...

If a person is not mentioned in a will, it may mean that they are estranged from the deceased or that the person has already received the inheritance.

There are many instances of the bequest of a paltry sum. This expression of hostility had a practical purpose; the fact that an individual was listed reduces the chance that a will may be contested on grounds of omission.

Delaware: Indexes, Abstracts, and Calendars

Copies of Wills and Probates at the UD Library

Copies of wills and probates can be obtained from the Delaware Public Archives, the county Register of Wills Office, or a Family History Center (Find a FamilySearch Center).

Subject Guide

Rebecca Knight
Contact:
Associate librarian
Reference and Instructional Services Department
Morris Library, Room 117H
(302) 831-1730


Subjects:
Delaware, U.S. Government Information, census, family studies, RefWorks, APA style, and genealogy.


Education:
B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.

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