There was a time when many American newspapers published summaries of what happened at the local term of the probate court. Details of your ancestor’s will, property owned at death, final bills, and more may have been published in the local newspaper. If probate records at the local courthouse are not extant or the case you want cannot be found, local newspapers may be able to provide some clues.
Generally speaking these notices became less frequent in the early 20th century.
Newspapers can also be a good source in burned counties. The courthouse may have burned, the some newspapers may have survived.