Court of Probates, 1805-1846

The Court of Probates was established to provide for the judicial supervision of the disposition of the estates left by deceased property owners in Orleans Parish. The records are divided into several series, the most important of which are wills, successions, and estate inventories.

Court clerks copied probated wills into bound volumes and prepared indexes to each of the resultant "will books." The Civil Courts collection also houses original olographic wills as well as copies of original wills filed with the city's notary publics, but researchers use the "will books" only.

Succession records were opened for all estates subject to probate whether or not the decedent left a will. A wide variety of documents can be found filed in succession records, from petitions of heirs and/or creditors, to records of family meetings to consider the rights of surviving minors, to orders and judgments rendered by the probate judge. Also included in succession records are all or some of the following: death certificates/affidavits of death, extracts from marriage registers, correspondence, and business or personal financial records.

Estate inventories, both originals and copies made from documents filed with notary publics, include listings of all Orleans Parish real estate, land and slaves, belonging to the estates of deceased individuals. The inventories also include listings of personal property, though the amount of detail varies from one record to the next. In some cases complete room-by-room inventories of residential and/or commercial buildings are included. Some cases also include listings of accounts payable and receivable, stocks and other negotiable paper, stock in trade, and other business-related documents. Still others include listings of the contents of personal libraries and/or personal papers.

Wills, successions, and inventories are indexed by the General Index of All Successions Opened in the Parish of Orleans, from the Year 1805, to the Year 1846, compiled by P. M. Bertin and published in 1849 (ask at the Louisiana Division reference desk for this volume; a second copy is kept in the Louisiana section of genealogy shelves). The will books, successions, and inventories are all available on microfilm produced by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Researchers use the microfilms only.