111 N. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Telephone: Index Room: (213) 974-5171
Records Room: (213) 974-5181
Probate files for recent cases (usually within the last five years) are kept in the County Courthouse building. Older files will be stored in the County Archives (see page ). When a person dies and leaves an estate above a certain value (changed over the years), the estate must be probated. This process involves paying off any creditors, approving the will (if there was a will), or determining the proper heirs if there was no will.
Probate files may contain the following types of information: the amount of the estate, copy of the will, legal documents relating to approving or contesting the will, lists of creditors and payments they received from the estate, etc. Because the executor of an estate is often a close relative and other relatives may be named in the will (or contest it), probate files contain genealogical useful information.
Like the probate files, divorce case files are kept in the County Courthouse for about five years and then transferred to the County Archives. Divorce case files usually will contain legal petitions filed when asking for a divorce, other legal papers relating to the disposition of the couple’s property, and final dissolution papers.
Civil Case Records:
The Superior Court records also cover common civil cases, such as when one individual sues another. The contents of these case files can vary widely depending on the type of case, but can provide very interesting historical information.
Superior Court case file indexes are located in Room 106 of the County Courthouse. Indexes for the years 1966 to current are kept at the Courthouse; older indexes are in the County Archives. The indexes for the years 1983 to 1998 are available on three computer terminals to the left of the counter. Earlier indexes (1966 to 1983) are covered in several microfiche sets available at the counter. There are five microfiche readers at tables along one wall of the room.
Indexes are organized by surname, combined for both plaintiffs and defendants. The index will provide the following information:
Full name of both plaintiff and defendant
Date case was filed
Type of case (C=civil, D=Divorce, P=probate)
Case file number
Courthouse code for district branch courthouses
Once you have located the case file number, you can check in Room 112 to see if the record is current and still kept in the courthouse. You will need to fill out a request form to see the file. These are kept on a table near the entrance. There is a public inspection area with seating for 30-40 people near the counter used to review case files; you are not allowed to take them out of this room. The counter personnel will tell you if the case file has been transferred to the Archives.