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Archives of Manitoba - Contact Information
Archives of Manitoba

Probate Records: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a probate record?
  2. Do all estate files contain wills? 
  3. What type of information will I find in a probate record? 
  4. Are death certificates and registrations included in probate files? 
  5. Can I get copies of probate records? 
  6. Are indexes and estate files available on this website? 
  7. Does the Archives of Manitoba have more recent probate records?
  8. What if I can’t find the person I’m looking for in the records?
  9. Once I have the location code or the estate file number, how do I go about viewing the records?
  10. Do I need an appointment to come in and do research?
  11. Are any of the estate files on microfilm?

1. What is a probate record?

Probate records, including estate files, are evidence of the court’s effort to settle the will or estate of a deceased person. This includes efforts to ensure that the provisions in the will are followed, and that any disputes regarding the dispensation of assets are brought before the court. Estate files may consist of: probate applications, wills, affidavits, property inventories and valuations.
Probate records may also include legal instruments such as grants of probate, letters of administration, letters of administration with will annexed, probate books, indexes, and special grants.

2. Do all estate files contain wills?

No. Sometimes the estate files do not contain a will. If the deceased did not leave a will or sufficient property to dispense of after death, there will not be a will in the estate file.

3. What type of information will I find in a probate record?

Probate records are an excellent source of information that may be difficult to gather otherwise. The types and number of documents you might find will vary from file to file.  For instance, you can find identifying information such as the name and residence of the deceased, the date, manner and place of death, and a list of heirs, spouses, children or relatives. In addition, the records may also contain the name, address and occupation of the person filing the application – often a relative of the deceased. Probate records may also include more detailed documents relating to the estate, such as a copy of the will left by the deceased, an inventory of the deceased’s holdings or debts, and any petitions or affidavits received by the court regarding the disposition of the estate.

4. Are death certificates and registrations included in probate files?

No. Death certificates and registrations may only be obtained from Manitoba Vital Statistics.

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5. Can I get copies of probate records?

Yes. Copies of probate records may be obtained at the Archives of Manitoba. Please consult the website for detailed information on the copy services provided by the Archives of Manitoba.

6. Are indexes and estate files available on this website?

The Winnipeg (Eastern) Judicial District index, the Brandon (Western) Judicial District index, the Dauphin Judicial District index, Morden (Southern) Judicial District, Portage la Prairie (Central) Judicial District and the St. Boniface Judicial District are now available on this website. The Archives of Manitoba is actively working on indexes for other judicial districts.

The probate records themselves are not available on this website.  This website is a guide to finding probate records at the Archives of Manitoba. 

7. Does the Archives of Manitoba have more recent probate records?

The probate records held at the Archives of Manitoba vary in age by district.  Probate records from the Winnipeg (Eastern) Judicial district are twenty or more years old, while regional (non-Winnipeg district) probate records are ten or more years old. For more recent probate records, see the Manitoba Court Registry System, an online database available directly from the Department of Justice.

8. What if I can’t find the person I’m looking for in the records?

If you are unable to find the person you are looking for in the index, try alternate spellings of names, or expand your search to include several years after the date of death. Keep in mind, however, that there may be gaps in the record, and that estate files may not exist for some individuals.

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9. Once I have the location code or the estate file number, how do I go about viewing the records?

Records may be viewed in the Archives of Manitoba Research Room. Before visiting the Archives of Manitoba, be aware that some records are stored off site and may not be immediately available.  A minimum of two business days is required to retrieve these records.  Contact the Archives of Manitoba to request these records.

10. Do I need an appointment to come in and do research?

An appointment is not necessary and our research room staff will be happy to assist you once you arrive. Primary research can be a complex process, so please allow yourself plenty of time to discover the rich resources in the probate records. You are encouraged to contact the Archives of Manitoba prior to your visit if you have a specific request.

For more information on research at the Archives of Manitoba, consult our website.

11. Are any of the estate files on microfilm?

No. The estate files held at the Archives of Manitoba are not available on microfilm. 

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