Estate law governs the disposition of a decedent's property, establishes an executor, assures final bills are paid and that the Last Will and Testament is executed according to the decedent's wishes. The probate process, a court proceeding that helps manage the disposal of the estate, is a lengthy course of action that can become complicated and last up to one year, according to EstateSettlement.com. Once the procedure is complete, the personal representative of the estate must file a report with the court that details all income, expenditures and taxes handled on behalf of the estate. An estate has been settled once the final accounting is complete, which becomes public record.
Gather the required information. In order to request estate records, you should have some basic information. Record the decedent's and executor's names, the location of death (state, county and city) and the date of death.
Call the probate court. Each state or county may differ in how they run their court system. For example, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Probate Division handles estates. In New York, it's the New York Surrogate Court. Contact the court in your county or parish that holds jurisdiction over matters of estate.
Ask the clerk of the court for information on researching probate cases. If necessary, request a download link, or fax or mail a request for a records search form. You may need to pay a fee, depending on the age of the case.
Complete the form and send the information to the appropriate address or person. Alternatively, you can visit the court and request the records search. Some states offer online tools that allow you to research estate settlement.