Arkansas Probate Records

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D., FUGA in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Arkansas Family History Research series.
History of Arkansas
Arkansas Vital Records
Census Records for Arkansas
Background Sources for Arkansas
Arkansas Maps
Arkansas Land Records
Arkansas Probate Records
Arkansas Court Records
Arkansas Tax Records
Arkansas Cemetery Records
Arkansas Church Records
Arkansas Military Records
Arkansas Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Arkansas Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Arkansas Naturalization
Native Americans of Arkansas
African Americans of Arkansas
Arkansas County Resources
Map of Arkansas


Generally, probate court records in Arkansas are generated by the chancery court and maintained by the county clerk. Wills and records created from probate proceedings for both testate and intestate estates are among the most valuable county records. Bound volumes of probate records include the recorded will, appointments of administrators, court orders for the inventory of an estate, the inventory, estate sale records, guardianship appointments and accounts, administrator/executor accounts, list of heirs, and final accounts.

Probate records and/or wills for the period prior to 1920 for most of the counties in Arkansas are available on microfilm through the FHL and the Arkansas History Commission. Volumes of published wills or probate records are available for some Arkansas counties.

Most county clerks also maintain bundles of loose probate records. These packets contain documents, not always in the record books themselves, filed in probate court in connection with estate settlements, guardianships, and insanity cases. Some are arranged in chronological order. Others are organized in semi-alphabetical order regardless of date. Original Pulaski County loose probate packets are at the Arkansas History Commission. To access the microfilm number and determine which records have been microfilmed, see <www.ark-ives.com/selected_materials/index.php>. Desmond Walls Allen, Henryetta Walls Vanaman, and Connie Olds Trent, Guide to Faulkner County, Arkansas, Loose Probate Packets 1873–1917 (Conway, Ark.: Arkansas Research, 1987) was compiled in an attempt to save information from loose probate packets before the records deteriorate.

Corinne Cox Stevenson and Mrs. Edward Lynn Westbrooke, Index to Wills and Administrations of Arkansas from the Earliest to 1900 (Jonesboro, Ark.: Vowels Printing Co., 1986) is arranged by county, with alphabetical lists within each county, but not statewide.

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