Where can I find wills and probate records?
Last revised September 08, 2022


It is a requirement of the wills probate process that a search for a wills notice be completed.

A wills notice identifies that a will has been registered and describes the person who has made the will, where the will is located, and the date of the will.

Anyone is eligible to conduct a search of wills notice of a deceased person.

To be eligible to conduct a search of wills notice for a person who is living, you must be the person themselves or a lawyer.

The BC Archives holds wills probated in British Columbia between 1861 and 1981. The wills indexes and the wills on microfilm are self serve and open for access in the reference room. The 1981 wills are in hardcopy and stored off-site.


Probate/estate files include the proceedings of all business relating to:

  • the proving of a will, in cases where there was one, or
  • the ultimate settling of an estate in instances where the individual died intestate (without leaving a valid will).

Probate files were usually created and maintained by the court registry closest to the residence of the deceased person or the executor of the will. While the contents may vary, many files contain a copy of the will, if there was one.  A typical file might contain:

  • copy of the will,
  • death certificate,
  • inventory of belongings,
  • claims from creditors, and
  • general family and financial information.

Probate case files and other records for estates probated in Victoria between 1859 and 1992, and in Vancouver between 1893 and 1992, are available at the British Columbia Archives. These files are mostly court files and are open for public access. There is no central probate index for all past and present probate files, so you will need to determine the court location of a probate action when there was a will. 

Early probate records for individuals who lived and died elsewhere in the province may be found in the Victoria Probate Registry. In the absence of a local registry, the records would be filed with the Victoria Probate Registry or the registry in the nearest community. 

  • For example, for probate files from Chilliwack you might need to search:
    • New Westminster, Vancouver and/or Victoria.

For information on probate documents or probate fees, phone a Supreme Court of BC Probate Registry.  If you want to know whether a particular estate has been administered in British Columbia, contact the Probate Registry in Victoria. Search and photocopy charges may apply.  

You can also search for current probate files through Court Services Online. This service currently contains information on any probate province wide from January 2004. Anything prior to that still requires a search from the probate registries.

A probate file is not always registered in the indexes within the first few months after the death of the individual. You may need to search for several years after the person's death. If you have not been successful in locating either a probate file or a will, you may wish to try and find other types of estate records. These include:

  • Letters Probate,
  • Letters of Administration,
  • Letters of Administration with Will Attached, and
  • Probate Cause Books.



BC Archives

675 Belleville Street

Victoria, B.C. V8W 9W2

tel.: 250 387 1952

fax: 250 387 2072

email: access@royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Supreme Court Probate Registry, Vancouver

Tel:  604.660.2876

BC Vital Statistics Agency - Wills Registry


Victoria BC V8W 9P3

tel: 250 952-2681