Q. How can I find a will before it is probated?

How can I find old wills?


The CourtHelp Last Will and Testament website gives this information:

The Will should be kept in a safe place where it will be easy to get to if it is needed. If a lawyer prepared the Will for you, you may want to discuss with the lawyer where to keep the original Will. In some counties, the Surrogate's Court has a vault where Wills are stored for safekeeping until the person dies.

The Will must be filed in Surrogate's Court and admitted for probate before the wishes of the person who died can be followed. If the person who died had less than $50,000 of personal property, then a small estate (also called a voluntary administration) can be filed instead.

Wills are a confidential document until the person dies. Once the Will is admitted to probate or a small estate, it becomes a public document that anyone can see and read.

The New York State Archives holds a limited number of post-1789 probate records. The Archives'  Probate Pathfinder describes its holdings and the materials available through FamilySearch.


  • Last Updated Aug 14, 2020
  • Views 135
  • Answered By Librarian 5

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