Utah County Probate Records
When you need legal help with Utah County Probate Records, please call Ascent Law LLC. We want to help you with Utah County Probate Records.
A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes, in certain modern nations. A county may be further subdivided into districts, hundreds, townships or other administrative jurisdictions within the county. A county usually, but not always, contains cities, towns, townships, villages, or other municipal corporations, which in most cases are somewhat subordinate or dependent upon county governments. Depending on the nation, municipality, and local geography, municipalities may or may not be subject to direct or indirect county control — the functions of both levels are often consolidated into a city government when the area is densely populated. Probate is the process for handling a person’s property after their death, including transferring title. It begins when a person, usually a family member, petitions the court to probate the estate and appoint a personal representative. The personal representative then administers the estate. This includes paying debts and claims against the estate, selling property (if required), and distributing assets. A court creates probate records after a person’s death based on the contents of the deceased person’s will. Probate records dictate the distribution of the estate and the care of any dependents. Probate court is a segment of the judicial system that primarily handles such matters as wills, estates, conservatorships, and guardianships, as well as the commitment of mentally ill persons to institutions designed to help them. When wills are contested, for example, the probate court is responsible for ruling on the authenticity of the document and the mental stability of the person who signed it. The court also decides who receives which portion of the decedent’s assets, based on the instructions in the will or – barring that – other laws in place. The role of the probate court is to make sure that a deceased person’s debts are paid and assets are allocated to the correct beneficiaries.
Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of dependents. This process took place whether there was a will (testate) or not (intestate). Various types of records may be found in probate files. These may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. You may also learn about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Additional clues often found in probate records are an ancestor’s previous residence, occupation, land ownership, household items, former spouse(s), religion, and military service. Probate records relate to a deceased person’s estate, whether that estate is “testate” (through a will) or “intestate” (without a will). Whether the decedent left a large estate or just some personal property, there’s a good chance that a probate file exists in a local court that oversaw distribution of property, the guardianship of a minor, or payment of debts. The contents of a probate file can vary from case to case, but certain details are found in most probates, most importantly, the names and residences of beneficiaries and their relationship to the decedent. An inventory of the estate assets can reveal personal details about the deceased’s occupation and lifestyle. There may also be references to debts, deeds, and other documents related to the settling of the estate. Probate records are essential for research because they often pre-date the birth and death records kept by civil authorities. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. The percentage was higher for rural areas than for urban areas because of the greater likelihood of land ownership for farmers. Because wills often list the names of many family members, as much as half the population either left a will or was mentioned in one. While probate records are one of the most accurate sources of genealogical evidence, they have limitations.
Types of Probate Records
Here are some of the types of documents you may run across in this collection:
• Wills: Wills direct the distribution of the estate according to the wishes of the testator. When the testator dies, the executor or executrix petitions the court for letters testamentary to prove (probate) the will. If the will is judged to be valid, it will be recorded in the will books of that court. The recorded will may include affidavits of witnesses attesting to the authenticity of the will and the competence of the testator at the time it was written. A copy of the will may also be found in the loose papers of a probate packet.
• Letters of Administration: In cases of intestate estates, letters of administration are requested to grant an administrator (usually the widow/widower or eldest son) the right to oversee the distribution of the estate in accordance with prevailing laws.
• Inventories: An inventory of the estate lists the assets with appraisals so an accurate accounting can be made and probate fees accurately levied. Inventories can give you some insights into your ancestor’s relative wealth, lifestyle, and occupation.
• Distributions and Accounting: You may find documents relating to the distributions paid out of the estate for administrative costs, allowances for heirs prior to settlement, and the final distribution of the estate. You may also find receipts and documents relating to the sale of estate assets.
• Bonds: Administrators, and at times executors, of estates may have been required to post a bond that would cover the value of the estate to protect the heirs from misconduct. Bondsmen were typically close family members, so these are important documents.
• Guardianships: If a minor child or a family member deemed incompetent and dependent had an interest in the estate, you may find guardianship papers included in the probate file. In addition, the guardian may have needed to post a bond equaling the value of the inheritance.
Probate records include petitions, inventories, accounts, decrees, oaths of executors, forms about guardians and other court documents. Information in entries includes:
• Name of testator or deceased
• Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
• Names of witnesses
• Residence of testator
• Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
• Document and recording dates (Sometimes the date of death will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death
Probate functions (testate and intestate proceedings; guardianships for males under age twenty-one and females under age eighteen and those incompetent to handle their legal affairs) were shared by county probate courts and territorial district courts between 1852 and 1896. Records for these are generally at the county seat, though some probate records have been microfilmed and are accessible through the FHL and/or the Utah State Archives. Microfilm coverage varies between counties.
After 1896, jurisdiction for probate matters became the sole responsibility of the District Court that operated for the county. There are now eight judicial districts encompassing twenty-nine counties.
There are 29 counties in the U.S. state of Utah.
• Beaver county
• Box Elder county
• Cache county
• Carbon county
• Daggett county
• Davis county
• Duchesne county
• Emery county
• Garfield county
• Grand county
• Iron county
• Juab county
• Kane county
• Millard county
• Morgan county
• Piute county
• Rich county
• Salt Lake county
• San Juan county
• Sanpete county
• Sevier county
• Summit county
• Tooele county
• Uintah county
• Utah county
• Wasatch county
• Washington county
• Wayne county
• Weber county
Types of Probate Court Records
• Contain copies of each document filed in a probate action.
• In an estate action, the case file normally contains documents requesting an appointment of an administrator; filing and proving of the will, authorizing the payment of valid claims on the decedent’s estate; inventorying the assets and liabilities of the estate; and determining the appropriate disposition of the assets to heirs or legatees.
• In an insanity action, the case file may contain a petition asking the court to declare an individual insane, medical testimony bearing on the individual’s mental capacity, a determination by the court of the individual’s mental state, the possible commitment to a state hospital or other facility, and the appointment of a guardian for the individual.
• Guardianship files for minors or for adults who were unable to handle their affairs may contain a petition to appoint a guardian, reports from social service or other agencies requested by the judge, and reports on any assets that the minor child or incapacitated adult may be entitled to.
• In a juvenile delinquency action, the case file may contain criminal complaints against the individual, investigatory reports ordered by the court, sentences imposed by the court, and follow-up reports ordered by the court.
Case files are normally filed in numerical order according to numbers assigned at the time of the opening of the casein some counties a single numerical sequence includes all types of cases. In other counties separately numbered series of files exist for estate cases, insanity cases, guardianship cases, or other special case types.
Registers of Actions
• Contain a record of the opening of each case and a notation of each document filed in the case.
• Brief records that provide a framework for the history of each case and its participants.
Each volume usually includes an index to the cases in that volume. The registers usually include the case file number thereby providing an alternative to a separate index to the case files.
• Contain a verbatim transcript of each will approved entered into the court record.
• Contain only the last will approved by the court. They will not contain earlier versions of wills that were later superseded.
• The original will is normally part of the probate case file.
• The will recorded in the will book will not contain original signatures of its creator or witnesses.
Will books are normally arranged chronologically according to the date in which the will was entered into the court record, usually shortly after the death of the individual. Researchers should be aware that the date the will was made might have been many years before the will was entered into the court record. .
Final Decrees of Distribution of Estates
• Contain a transcription of the final decree distributing the assets of a decedent
• Original final decree normally is filed in the case file
• Will normally list which heir or legatee received what portion of the decedent’s real or personal property.
• Researchers should note that this document does not necessarily include a listing of what happened to all the property of the deceased.
• Will show how much cash each heir received if the estate administrator converted many of the estate’s assets into cash during the probate process
Final decrees are usually arranged within each volume in rough chronological order according to the date that the final decree was issued. Final decrees also may be arranged in several different series depending on the nature of the estate case and the type of decree. Frequently, some final decree records also were included in miscellaneous order books. For certain time periods, final decrees may be separated by testate (decedent died with a valid will) or intestate (decedent died without a valid will) case type.
Insanity Record Books
• Summary of the mental competency cases that came before the court
• Frequently include a detailed medical evaluation of the individual whose competency was being questioned.
• If declared to be not competent to conduct one’s own affairs, an individual may have been committed to a state hospital.
Insanity records are mostly dated before 1920. Access to certain information may be restricted.
Additional Record Books
• Inventories of the assets of estates, frequently termed “inventory and appraisement records”;
• Letter records, appointing specific individuals as administrators of an estate;
• Appointment books, appointing administrators or guardians;
• Order books, reproducing administrative orders filed in a case file;
• Guardianship records, appointing guardians for minor children or for an adult with diminished mental capacity; and
• Minute books, containing brief entries of the daily proceedings before the court.
The information contained in a probate record generally shows:
• Name of the estate
• Date of filing
• Case number
• Name of the deceased
• Date of death
• Description of real and personal property
• Value of the estate and tax liability due
• Names of next of kin
Probate Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a probate in Utah County, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506