|Finding Probate Records in the LDS Family History Library Catalog:
Probates can be pretty frustrating to find, but extremely rewarding when you do find them. Well, rewarding if you get excited over lists of your distant ancestor's clothing, dishes, furniture, and animals. And I do find that extremely exciting. You'll also often find important genealogical info, if you're lucky, usually the names of the deceased's children and spouse. Sometimes you'll find information about the deceased's siblings, previous spouses, or even parents. And for my friend, I found her great great grandfather's probate which was very sad. It said that everything the family owned belonged to the local poor law authority.
So how to do find probates? There are not many probates posted online, so you'll have to rent the correct film from the local LDS Family History Center. If you have the place name where your ancestor lived at the time of death, it's very helpful. For example, I knew that I had several ancestors who lived at Klitsgård in Bøvling. The probates are organized by the estate that the place belonged to, not by village, or county, so probates for each village will usually be found under two or three different manors. However, if your ancestor lived in a town such as Aarhus, those probates will be listed by that town. So if you know the place name, then go to www.familysearch.org, click on catalog, and then click on "keyword" then search for that place name. Try that with Klitsgård now. You'll see that there are two films which mention Klitsgård at different times, and if you click on the title, you'll see all the places in town covered by that film. You'll notice that one of these films is for a different Klitsgård in another county. If you don't find your ancestors' place name mentioned, then you'll need to search by the parish name, and see if you can find a variation of the place name in the list of places in the parish. You should also do a place search on the Herred and on the Amt under the name used at the time you're interested in; those are generally not included on the parish list. Another possible source of probate information is the Birketing records of the judicial district.
One good thing to know when you have the film in hand is that there is often an index at the back of the book, or at the end of a section. I spent a couple of hours picking through my first roll of probates to find the person I wanted--- then found the index in the back. The writing will almost certainly be hard to read, but usually you can at least pick the names out on your own to determine if you have the right one, and then perhaps ask for help at the Denmark Rootsweb list. If a person died after having made a contract for their estate with someone else, usually one of their children for the child to take over the estate while providing care for the parent, there will not be a probate. This contract was called an Æfægtskontrakt.
Anyone getting into probates should check the local Family History Center to see if it has a copy of J. Grant Stevenson's book on using Danish probate records and if so, photocopy both the Hoffman-Bang guide (tells what records for each estate or authority have survived) and the Jørgensen Parish Register for Jylland (tells which estates had some jurisdiction in each parish). If Stevensen isn't available, you can order Hoffman-Bang and Jørgensen on microfilm #160126. There's a similar guide by Axel Nørlit for Sjælland and one for Fyn, Langeland, Taasinge, and Ærø on the same film.
There are a fair number of good folks out there who are making extracts of probate records (also churchbooks and even tingbøger) and putting them online; you should know that there are occasional errors (these generous people are
after all still human and many probates are very difficult to read anyway). In addition, the extracts are "bare bones" and sometimes there is very juicy meat in the actual probate. Some of my favorites are:
Bente Feldballe's site with links to others.
Niels Sørensen & Britta Helseby
Erik Brejl skifte-og-fæsteuddrag
Copenhagen Probates are much more complicated. This link is to Gary Horlacher's excellent guide to Copenhagen. Scroll down the page till you see Probates and Wills.
(written by Paula Goodfellow from information posted to the Denmark list by Betty Jack and Paula Goodfellow)
The probate below is of Afgange Opholdsmand Christen Simonsen i Klitsgaard in Boufling Sogn, 1777. (Deceased resident Christen Simonsen of Klitsgaard in Bøvling parish.