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Probate records refer to wills, inventories, letters of administration and guardianship. They are usually held at the county courthouse unless archived and they are indexed by the name of the testator.
There are three types of wills: Attested, Holographic and Nuncupative. The attested will is the most common and is prepared for the testator. A holographic will is written by the testator himself. A nuncupative will is the deathbed wishes of the testator, recorded by a witness present at the bedside. All wills must be witnessed.
A person who dies "intestate" dies without a will.
An "executor" is named by the testator and is required by the court to post a bond. An "administrator" is appointed to handle the affairs of one who dies intestate (without a will).
Remember that each generation doubles the number of ancestors. It's easy to get lost if you don't plan ahead for your trip.
Focus on one or two families. The others will still be there when you get to them.
When taking notes, use standard size paper, one surname per page. Record the source and identifying information so you can find it again, and the date and place you found info (volume and page). Use only accepted abbreviations (no homespun stuff). Understand basic terminology.