When a person draws up a will, they need to appoint someone to administer
their estate when they die. This person is known as the executor. The executor
is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will. The executor will
sometimes need to apply for probate. Probate means the official recognition that
a will is legally valid. The application is made to the Probate Registry of the
Supreme Court for a “Grant of Probate”. The grant is a document certifying that
the Supreme Court recognises the authority of the executor(s) to deal with the
estate. This will enable the executor to collect the assets and pay any debts of
the deceased person and then to distribute the estate as directed by the will.
Do I need to obtain probate?
Not necessarily. The main reason that probate is required is that some
organisations which hold assets of the estate will not release them to the
executor(s) for distribution without sight of a Grant of Probate. You will need
to make a list of everything the deceased owned or was entitled to and then make
contact with the financial institutions concerned to establish whether they
require a Grant of Probate. This will be more relevant for smaller estates. For
larger estates comprising real estate, probate will almost certainly be
The Land Titles Offices in all States and Territories will always require a
Grant of Probate if the home or land to be distributed under the will is in the
deceased’s name only. If the deceased person owns land as a joint tenant,
probate will not be required as the property will automatically revert to the
other person (for example, the spouse of the deceased). Transfer of the title
from joint names, or solely in the name of the deceased, into the name(s) of the
beneficiaries will be required.
Bank and Building Society Accounts
Financial institutions have varying rules which will allow access to the
deceased’s accounts without a Grant of Probate if the estate is small. We
recommend that you make an enquiry of the financial institution regarding any
accounts containing any more than $10,000. The general cut-off is commonly
$15,000 but this will vary from institution to institution. Draft letters are
provided at the back of the kit.
The Roads and Traffic Authority, or your State equivalent, will not require a
Grant of Probate but will need sight of a certified copy of the death
certificate, a copy of the will, a letter from the executor, proof of identity,
the certificate of registration and the completed application for transfer to
transfer the registration of the deceased’s vehicle.
In our experience, if shares are held in an account in the sole name of the
deceased and valued at over $2000, the Grant of Probate will generally be
required to release the shares for distribution by the executor.
The executor should contact either the share registry of the company
concerned or could alternatively contact Computershare Investor Services on 1300
855 080 to ascertain the number and value of shares held and whether the Grant
of Probate is required for distribution.
You will need to contact the institution concerned and enquire whether they
require the Grant of Probate to release the funds to the executor for
distribution. Some types of policy will include provision for a named
beneficiary in the event of the death of the policy holder and may therefore not
be covered by the will.
What are Letters of Administration?
In a similar fashion to an application for a Grant of Probate, in certain
circumstances, it is not possible to obtain probate. An alternative is to apply
for Letters of Administration. This is typically done under circumstances where
there is no will or the will is invalid or partially invalid.
For more information, please see our
Letters of Administration PLUS
What is an executor?
An executor is a person appointed by another in a Will to act in respect of
the estate of the Will maker (Testator) upon his or her death.
An executor is the legal personal representative of a deceased person. When a
person dies without a Will then an Administrator is the legal personal
representative. The information in the Kit relates only to executors.
The appointment of an executor is only effective following the death of the
Will maker. Once he or she has died then if you are appointed by the Will as
executor you should decide very quickly whether or not you wish to accept the
position. You are under no legal obligation to do so. If you don’t want to act
as an executor the Kit contains information about how to “renounce probate”. The
Will maker may have discussed the appointment with you but frequently the
executor is unaware of the appointment until death.
If you have been appointed executor by the Will of a friend or relative who
has recently died you need to decide very quickly if you should accept the
Do I need to
use a solicitor to apply for Probate?
No. The executor(s)
can make a personal application for a Grant of Probate. In doing so, you can
save thousands of dollars in legal fees and maintain full control of the
a service that assists executors in making a personal application.
Handling Probate $250.00
This Kit will provide you with all you need to prepare and submit the
application to the Court, including:
- full help-line support 1300 728 200
- background explanation of the law and the duties of an executor;
- a list of steps for obtaining probate;
- sample letters to banks and other institutions;
- completed examples of the forms; and
- blank templates of all the forms you will need.
Handling Probate PLUS $600.00
This service includes:
a review of supporting
the preparation of all probate
application forms on behalf of the executors; and
answers to any questions or
requisitions from the Supreme Court.
a fixed price -