If the name you're searching for is not in the list, it may not have been indexed yet. Also remember to try alternate spellings - for example, "Brian" as an alternate of "Bryan", which will be in two different index groups.
As with any old documents, we are not only subject to less-than-legible handwriting, we are also susceptible to the vagaries of spelling.
For example, one of our members has spent time researching the name "Osborne", and found at least 34 variations in spelling:
Asbun, Asburn, Aulbourn, Aursbourn, Ausband, Ausbern, Ausbin, Ausbon, Ausborne, Ausbourn, Ausbourne, Ausburn, Ausburne, Orsborn, Orsborne, Orsbourn, Orsburn, Orzburn, Osben, Osbern, Osbin, Osbon, Osborn, Osborne, Osbourn, Osbun, Osburm, Osburn, Osburne, Ozbarn, Ozborn, Ozborne, Ozbourne, and Ozburn.
Transcribers, and indexers after them, can only work with what was written, not what might have been intended. The savvy researcher will keep this in mind when looking for names of specific interest.
***This feature is less than a year old, and is currently under construction, thus not yet complete. Keep checking back over the coming weeks as we incorporate the indices Taneya has already created, and as she creates more. Questions, suggestions, or general comments may be made to the Webmaster.
To browse the actual image files, see the North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1979 at FamilySearch. This link is also available on each individual decedent index page. The county name on each County page is a link to the image collection for that county at FamilySearch.
Update: 10 Sep 2013, with four new counties - Alleghany, Anson, Avery, & Beaufort. 2706 new names - every surname group has new entries.
Update: 14 Oct 2013, with five new counties - Bertie, Brunswick, Bute, Camden, & Catawba. The county lists are posted, but the decedent names are not yet in the Decedent Index. This is in the process of being reconfigured to provide shorter lists. Look for changes to the Decedent Index in the coming days.
Update: 24 Oct 2013 - All decedent names from the last 5-county update have been incorporated into the Decendent Index. 6796 new records. The Decedent Index was broken down into smaller groups. The total number of names indexed now stands at 70,272.
Update: 30 Dec 2013 - Five new counties - Gates, Graham, Granville, Jones, and Lincoln. 9673 new names added to the Surname Decendent Index, for a new total of 79,945 names.
*Special notes, 30 Dec 2013:
1. There is one entry of "Two lists of names, chiefly Robinson, Ledbetter, Tillman & others". This entry is not broken down for the specific names in the Decedent Index, but the entry is found on the Anson County list.
2. During this update, it became apparent that the redirect for the "B" group of surnames was off by 1 digit, so all the links were offset by one, and the group "Babb-Balcon" was not visible. That has been corrected.
Update: 15 Jan 2014 - The recent softward upgrade renumbered all of the articles, which in effect, broke all the links in the table below. Each of these has been individually edited, and should work now. Any incorrect or broken links should be reported to the Webmaster.
Update: 15 May 2014 - Four new counties - Chowan, Currituck, Dare, and McDowell. 7943 new names added to the Surname Decedent Index, for a new total of 87, 888 names.
*Special notes, 15 May 2014:
1. There is an entry in the "Surnames William - Williams, Joel" list that was incorrectly indexed. The entry is for "William A, Owens (1859)", Davie County. The name should have been indexed as "Owens, William A". Our list here has not been changed, as that is where you will find the entry at Family Search, but it has been added to the Davie County list, with a note.
2. In the process of adding the four new counties, with the appropriate links to Family Search, it was discovered that Family Search had changed the URL for all the county files, making ours obsolete. These have all been updated.
3. In updating this page, it was also discovered that the links to the county pages had been broken in the January software upgrade, and gone unnoticed and unreported. These have been repaired.
Update: 30 Aug 2014 - Four new counties - Ashe, Cumberland, Macon, and Forsyth. 22,921 new names added to the Surname Decedent Index - 17,232 names from Forsyth County, alone. This makes a new total of 110,809 names.
*Bute County was created in 1764, divided into Franklin County and Warren County in 1779, and ceased to exist.
Researchers should take this into consideration when searching for records in any of those counties.