Louisiana Probate (Succession) Records
This entry was originally written by Beth A. Stahr, CGRS and Sharon Sholars Brown for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The succession record of Louisiana is much like the probate files of other states; if a will exists, which is rare in early Louisiana, it is filed with the succession. This is indeed a rich source for genealogists. The family meeting is one of the most important documents found in a succession. These are meetings held by family members and friends to discuss the estate and the fate of the minor heirs (should there be any). They name each person attending, give their relationship to the deceased and the minors, and give the ages of the children. If there are married daughters, they give the names of their husbands, and the name of the widow and any former spouses with their maiden names. Other documents found in a succession are notes owed the deceased by others, an inventory of all property and movables, a complete listing of all heirs (with maiden names of the females and spouses of the married daughters), ages of all minor heirs, date of death of the deceased, appraisal of all property, and a listing of the disbursement of said property.
If the heirs of the deceased are not known, the succession is called a “vacant succession.” The testimonies of acquaintances either identify the missing heirs or state that there are none. If there are heirs then the succession is left open until they are located. In this case the ancestral data compiled can be overwhelming. Succession records for many Louisiana parishes have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available on microfilm at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City.