" I am looking for information for an estate belonging to a Thomas Trent who passed away many years ago. He owned property on the 1000 block of Broadway in Chula Vista, we used to live directly behind him when I was a kid. He was already old and I would help him get around his house because he was so old. Anyway I remember one day my mother telling me an attorney came by asking questions about me because he wanted to add me to his will."
Rick wanted to know if there was a will, and was he included in it.
My first instinct was to determine when Thomas Trent died, presumably in San Diego County. The California Death Index, 1940-1997 told me that Thomas B. Trent died on 23 December 1977 in San Diego County. I found an obituary in the San Diego Union newspaper for Thomas B. Trent that noted that he had a son and six grandchildren.
To find out if there is a Probate record for Thomas B. Trent who died in 1977, I went to the Superior Court of San Diego website (http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/) and found the Accessing Court Case Files portal page:
The San Diego Superior Court has digitized the indexed probate records from 1974 to the present, and has images available online for files from 2008. Before 1974, the files are indexed in record books, and the actual files are on microfilm or microfiche.
I wanted the Probate records for 1977, so I clicked on the green button to "Find a Case Number and Location" (which includes Probate). That took me to the "Party Name Search" page:
On the fields above, I entered the Case Type = "Probate," Case Location = "San Diego," Beginning Date = 1974, Ending Date = 1980, Last Name = "Trent" and First Name = "Thomas."
I clicked "submit" and the search results appeared:
Two items were listed on the same date, with one Case Number = P116618. I clicked on the Case Number link and saw the description of the file:
The Probate record "In the Matter of Thomas B. Trent" was filed on 30 December 1977. It is a case with "Letters of Testament/Admin WWA." I think that means that it is an Administration file With Will Annexed (but I may be wrong!).
The next issue is "how do I obtain it." The web page to "How to View a Court File" says that "The public may request and view a file by filling out the required court form and showing a valid driver's license or other valid photo I.D. which court staff will record." However, the file must be viewed at the court's business office, and cannot be removed.
The "Obtain a Copy of a Court File" page is:
That page says:
"Once you have located the case number and court location, there are a number of ways to obtain a copy of a court record. Records may be requested:
- On-line when accessing imaged court records for limited case types/locations post 2011.
- In person at the courthouse or branch location where the record is located.
- By mailing a request for copies to the office where the record is located, along with appropriate fee."
- If you do not know the case number, you can look up the case number on the public computer at some court locations. For cases from 1880 to 1964, go to Central Records where the index is located.
- Provide the court staff at the counter with the case number.
- A picture identification card must be presented to view case files.
- Order copies from the microfiche/microfilm or file at 50¢ per page. (A page is defined as one side of a document.)
- Some copy requests may require a minimum of two court days to process. You will be contacted by court staff when your copy request has been completed, or given a pick-up date at the time of your request. You must pay for the copies before they are made."