Probate records are pretty important documents, but sometimes we can lose our copy in all the tons of paperwork we have to shift through daily.
It’s not a big deal – a lot of people can lose documents they thought they would never need again.
But if you have been asked to supply a will or probate record and you just can’t seem to find it in your possession, then you will need to request a copy of it – but where? From who? How?
Luckily, thanks to the internet, finding a probate record can sometimes only take a few clicks and simple searches.
Most probate courts will say online if they have a copy of someone’s probate records in their possession and you can find the one you need by using the ever faithful internet.
So, if you need to get a copy of a probate report, here is how you can find it online and request a copy.
What Are Probate Records?
Probate records are records that are related to a court’s decision regarding how the deceased’s estate is distributed. They also deal with how any of the deceased’s dependents are cared for after their death.
These records can come in a variety of types, including wills, letters of administration, and guardianships.
Probate can take place regardless of whether the deceased left behind a will or not. This judicial process often happens just to prove if a deceased person’s will is valid or not, so these are very common records.
Once a will is declared as valid, then it can be acted upon. Probate records are public and can be ready by anyone.
They also contain a lot of valuable information such as the deceased’s exact date of death, the names of their relatives like spouses and children, their residences, and the worth of all the property and land holdings they had at the time of their death.
This is why probate records are so sought after and are valued. They are a great resource for both genealogists and historians, and also are often sought out by attorneys who must have all the legal documents they need for evidence.
They can also be a great help to you to prove someone’s will, especially if you are a beneficiary and are being questioned about what was left to you in someone’s will.
Therefore, it is important for you to know how and where you can find a copy of someone’s probate record – and thanks to modern technology, you can now find out online but the process is not always quick and easy.
Steps To Find Probate Records Online
The first step towards finding probate records online is first to find out where the probate estate has been filed.
This is generally in the county where the deceased person lived prior to their death or the county where the deceased owned real estate. You should check for the correct name of the county first.
Once you have the correct county, you can locate the online records by searching for the county’s probate court.
In some states, the probate court may be known as different names including:
- Surrogate’s court
- Circuit court
- Orphan’s court
This can make finding the county’s probate court a little tricky but be persistent and you will eventually find the county’s probate court.
Once you have found the county’s probate court, you can search for the probate record on their website. You will need the year of death and the deceased’s surname.
Once you have found the correct probate records, you can now take steps to obtain a copy of a will or other probate record in person.
You should either appear in person at the court and ask for a copy of the probate records, or make a written request in the mail if the location of the court is too far away for you to visit in person.
You will also have to pay a copying fee for the probate report – this fee varies in cost but the general average is a few dollars per page of the report.
Remember to provide the court with a stamped envelope with your address on it if you need the records mailed to you.
What To Do If Cannot Find The Probate Records Online
Sometimes, you just cannot find the probate court’s dockets online.
This will mean you can’t find the right will online so what you need to do is to go to the probate court in person or contact them via phone call or email and ask for their help to find the docket.
A clerk will be able to look up the estate information and find the probate records for you. You can also call an estate planning attorney and ask them to help you obtain copies of the probate report.
This will likely incur a fee, but it saves you a lot of trouble and hassle if you do not live anywhere near the court yourself.
If after all this you still cannot find a probate report, then it may be that a probate estate has not been opened.
You should then consult with an estate planning attorney about what options you have available to you. They will be able to give more professional advice tailored to your case.
And that’s it! Thanks to modern technology and advancements, finding a probate record is now only a few internet searches away.
Although you won’t be able to view the document online, you can certainly find where it is kept and request a copy from the appropriate probate court.
This makes finding probate records and wills way easier than it used to be, so you don’t have to waste time trying to find long gone documents.
We hope this has been helpful to you and remember, if you are still struggling trying to find the correct will or probate record, you should get in touch with an estate planning attorney who can help you out.