District Court (Fifth District : Washington County) Probate case files
These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.
An agency history is available.
Scope and Content
Probate case files from the Fifth District Court in Washington 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.
It appears that many of the earliest case files in the series contain records that originated in either the Territorial Second District Court or the Washington County Probate Court. Several of the earliest case files from this series originate prior to 1896 and presumably made their way into this series when final action was eventually taken by the Fifth District Court.
In October 2009 case file 873 was found in the court and was mailed to the State Archives. The case file has been added to the physical holdings but has not been microfilmed.
Probate record books from the District Court (Fifth District : Washington County), Series 18215, more fully document court proceedings as they relate to individual cases.
Probate registers of action from the District Court (Fifth District : Washington County), Series 18217, record the date any action was taken on a case and briefly state what that action was.
Estate administration index from the District Court (Fifth District : Washington County), Series 23780, can be used to locate estate cases found in this series.
All case files created between 1896 and 1955 were transferred to the Utah State Archives in 2007. For access to case files post-1955 researchers should contact the clerk of the Fifth District Court in Washington County.
This series is available on microfilm.
This series is primarily classified as Public. The secondary classification is Exempt: Judicial records are public unless restricted under rules of civil procedure (UCA 63G-2-301-[f]). Included are custody proceedings, guardianship files, minutes, & probate records. Wills are generally considered private data until probate.
Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.
Gaps in Series
Cases 5, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 60, 61, 72, 80, 142, 145, 148, 193, 202, 211, 223, 311, 314, 315, 343, 352, 470, 490, 501, 513, 523, 526, 534, 548, 555, 580, 606, 632, 879, 890, and 1061 are missing.
This series was archivally processed by Jim Kichas and Emily Gurr in December 2007 as part of a NHPRC grant project designed to preserve the historic records of Utah's Fifth District Courts.