Vermont Probate Records
This entry was originally written by Scott Andrew Bartley and Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Probate records were filed by probate district and not town or county; however, some counties are divided geographically into two probate districts. For Vermont’s fourteen counties (see Vermont County (Probate) Resources), there have been twenty probate districts. Two of the districts disbanded—New Haven in 1962, and Bradford in 1994. By percentage, few Vermonters who died in the state have probate records filed. Many people disposed of their holdings to one or more children in land transactions before death.
Probate records are only indexed by district. District offices have indexes filed by decedent only. Microfilm indexes are available at Vermont Public Records Division (see Vermont Archives, Libraries, and Societies), New England Historic Genealogical Society and The Family History Library (FHL). Unlike the land records, the The Vermont Public Records Division has not extensively continued the microfilming program of probate records. With some exceptions, only the official probate proceedings books were microfilmed to about 1850. Much more information exists in the original probate files that are held in the district itself, along with the probate records after 1850.
A complete probate search involves using all the files that are available in addition to the record books. Insolvent estates are not uncommon.
The only published index currently available is the Windsor County Probate Index (1778–1899) by Scott A. Bartley and Marjorie J. Bartley (St. Albans, Vt.: Genealogical Society of Vermont, 2000), which includes both Hartford and Windsor probate districts.