Probate

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Frequently asked questions about probate

In addition to the FAQs detailed below, more information about the Probate process is available from the left hand navigation menu on this page (See 'Applications' sub heading).


 

    Can I get a copy of a will?

    The Court can provide you with a copy of a will if that will has been the subject of a grant of probate in New South Wales. Fees are payable on this service; see the Application for Exemplification/Copy of Will form for full details.

    If you are seeking a copy of the will for genealogical research purposes, it is possible that the will has been released into the State Archives Collection. It is recommended that you check State Archives' Online Index of Probate Packets before you apply to the Court.

    Can I get a copy of a grant of probate?

    A copy of a grant can be obtained in the same way that a copy of a will is requested, but you will also need to indicate if you are an executor or a beneficiary.

    A copy of the grant which includes the Court's seal is called an exemplification. Two types are issued:

    1. Details of the grant and any will relating to it - this is available to any person.

    2. Details of the grant, any will relating to it and the inventory of the deceased's assets that was filed with the application for the grant - unless the death occurred prior to 1 January 1920. This option is only available to executors, beneficiaries or any person(s) authorised in writing to act on behalf of such a person.

    Fees are payable on this service; see the Application for Exemplification/Copy of Will form for full details.

    If you are seeking a copy of the will for genealogical research purposes, it is possible that the will has been released into the State Archives Collection. It is recommended that you check State Archives' Online Index of Probate Packets before you apply to the Court.

    Depositing a will with the Supreme Court of NSW

    Section 51 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) governs this process.

     
    Any person can  voluntarily deposit their Will with the Supreme Court of NSW for safe keeping. 

     
    To deposit a Will with the Court the testator ( the Will maker) must ensure that the Will is correctly executed. A correctly executed Will must have the name of the deceased and be signed by the testator, witnessed, dated and any alterations must be initialled.

     
    Any Will to be deposited with the court must also be secured in a sealed envelope with the following details on the envelope:
    • the testator’s name and address as they appear in the Will
    • the executor(s)  name and address as they appear in the Will
    • the date of the Will.
    • The name of the person or legal firm depositing the Will on behalf of the testator.
    A fee must also be paid on lodging the Will with the Court. Please see the current fee schedule on our website.
    Wills may also be lodged with the NSW Trustee & Guardian​​ and an independent trustee company for safe keeping.


     

    ​Can I see the Court's probate file?

    ​You should complete the Application to Access a Probate File​ form if you want to review the documents on the Court's file. An executor or administrator of a person's estate, a beneficiary, a party to any proceeding related to the validity or interpretation of the will or the manner in which the administration of an estate is being carried out, a barrister or solicitor for any of those persons, and a person authorised in writing by any of them can have access to a Court file concerning them. Any other person must be given leave by a Court Registrar. In deciding whether or not to approve access, the Registrar would be guided by the matters set out in Practice Note SC Gen 2.

    Can I search the Court's probate records?

    If you are not able to visit the Court, its staff will carry out a search for you and let you know the result. If you need a written report documenting the search results, a fee is payable; see the Application for a Search Report form for further details.

    If you just want verbal confirmation that an application has been filed with the Court in a particular estate, provided the application as filed after 1 January 1989, you can receive the results instantly over the phone by calling 1300 679 272. If you know that the application was filed before 1989, you will need to complete the Application for a Search Report form​.

    If you are searching for probate to further genealogical research, it is recommended that you first check State Archives' Online Index of Probate Packets before asking the Court to perform a search.

    ​Can the executor resign after obtaining probate?

    A person may resign or retire from being an executor if he or she appoints the NSW Trustee & Guardian or a trustee company in his or her place. Otherwise an executor is generally not allowed to resign or retire as executor. If the executor is just holding the assets as a trustee, he or she may retire (as trustee) and appoint a new trustee.

    ​What do I do when a later will is found after probate has been granted?

    You must first make an application to the Court to revoke the grant and, second, also make a fresh application for probate of the later will. Even though they are separate applications the Court will deal with them simultaneously.

    What happens when the executor is not capable of applying for probate (for example, due to ill health)?

    If the executor is not the sole beneficiary, one of the beneficiaries should apply for administration with will annexed. If the executor is also the sole beneficiary, the application is usually brought by the executor's next of kin. These grants may be subject to limitations or conditions imposed by the Court.