Have you looked for a relative’s probate only to not find it? Are you certain that he or she owned land when he died? If you are, look for a quit claim type of deed where the heirs either sell to one other heir or to another party. It may be that your ancestor’s estate “avoided” probate by use of one of these deeds. Sometimes these records will say the name of the deceased owner and sometimes they do not. Consequently to find these records, look in land indexes for the names of all known heirs of the relative whose probate you cannot find.
Many times genealogists look for a will of an ancestor and stop there–especially if they find it. But records of financial accountings may clarify items that are vague in a will and mention individuals not named in a will. Some estates take years to settle. Heirs named in a will may die before the estate is finally settled. The heirs of the deceased heir normally inherit their share and these individuals may be named in final accountings for the estate. Seeing who got how much may make relationships more clear and provide you with new names of relatives. People tend to “reappear” when money is involved–even those who have been missing for decades.