District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County) Probate case files
These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.
Scope and Content
Probate case files from the Seventh District Court in San Juan County primarily involve the probate of estates for deceased persons and guardianship for minors and incompetent persons. Probate is judicial oversight of property in transition. Probate of estates is the process by which a deceased person's property is identified and maintained, his debts and taxes paid, and then remaining property distributed to beneficiaries as specified in a will or as required by law for persons who die intestate (without a will). In guardianship cases probate is the establishment of a guardian for minors or incompetent adults who hold property that needs management. In addition to probate these case files also include name changes and some adoptions.
Utah's Territorial Assembly established original jurisdiction over the probate of estates and the guardianship of incompetent persons with county probate courts in 1852 (An Act in Relation to the Judiciary. Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials passed by the First Annual, and Special Sessions of the Legislative Assembly. Great Salt Lake City, 1852, Brigham H. Young, Printer. pp. 38-48). That jurisdiction transferred to the probate divisions of District Courts when County Probate Courts were abolished at statehood.
The probate process includes three parts. First, a petitioner must file with the court the documents necessary to have the court appoint a representative. Documents relating to this process include wills, petitions, letters of administration, bonds, etc., and a court order appointing an administrator, executor, or guardian. Second, the appointed representative does all that is necessary to manage the property through the period of transition. Documents filed here might include a court order appointing appraisers, notices to creditors, estate inventories, various kinds of financial statements, receipts, bills, and the court-appointed representative's final report. Finally, when all requirements have been met, such as all bills paid or a minor has become of age, the court mandates a final settlement and releases the representative from any further responsibility.
The Territorial Legislature made provision for formal adoptions in 1884 and assigned jurisdiction to County Probate Courts (Compiled Laws of Utah, vol. II, 1888, part 5, chapter 4). Adoption case files include a formal petition, documents supporting the petition and the court's final decree. In this series adoption case files begin in 1893. Whereas early adoptions were open to the public and sometimes published in the newspaper, adoptions later became private. Most adoption records in this series are closed to public access (see access restrictions note). In addition to probate and adoption, case files this series also include official name changes.
Numerical by case number.
Processing of this series was completed after all known microfilm holdings for historic probate case files were transferred to the Utah State Archives from the Seventh District Court of San Juan County, in April 2013. Original paper files were presumably destroyed after initial filming took place in the court in 1995. Archival processing of the physical records did not take place prior to filming and that should be noted if case files appear missing or out of order.
Researchers will note that the container list for this series contains two distinct runs of microfilm. The first (reels 1 to 26) are 16 millimeter reels for which the Utah State Archives had both master and catalog copies (prior to the court sending all of its microfilm to the State Archives in April 2013). The second set of film (reels 27 to 39) are a much older set of 35 millimeter reels, for which the Utah State Archives had no prior holdings (master or reference copies) prior to the court transferring its film. The decision was made to keep both sets of film in order to insure the ongoing survival of all available case files. In the event a researcher is unable to locate a specific case on the first set of microfilm they should consult the second set, which may fill in gaps.
Probate record books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 1314, more fully document court proceedings as they relate to individual cases.
Minute books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 21847, contain abstracted minutes of the case proceedings recorded in the case files found in this series.
Probate registers of action from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 26200, contains a summary of actions for each case in the case files.
Court order books from the District Court (Seventh District : San Juan County), Series 28250, contain the court orders to which the probate case files in this series correspond.
Microfilm holdings for historic probate case files that were maintained by the court were transferred to the Utah State Archives in April 2013.
This series is available on microfilm.
Probate proceedings are public records. However adoption records, which are filed throughout the probate case files, require the permission of the Seventh District Court until 100 years have passed.
Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.
This series was processed by Jim Kichas in April 2013.
Indexes: Probate case indexes that can used to access this series are maintained in series 28268.