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Genealogy: Wills and Probates

Information About Wills & Probate Records

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  • probate [name of state]
  • wills [name of state]

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  • wills [name of state] [name of county]
  • [name of county] [name of state] genealogy
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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:

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.

Starting Point

Starting Point: Delaware

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).

Genealogy Resources at the University of Delaware Library

Although not aimed at genealogy and family history, the collections of the University of Delaware Library (Morris Library) include materials useful to genealogists and family historians.

This Genealogy Research Guide is provided as a service for genealogists. It presents topics and resources to assist researchers.

The UD Library does not specialize in genealogy and does not have staff responsible for genealogy. Library staff cannot conduct research.

For questions about library resources and holdings, use the Ask the Library service.

For questions about getting research assistance, see the suggestions on the home page of this guide or on the topic/resources pages.