Probate Office FAQs
Q: What records are available for search?
A: The Probate Office maintains a register of all Grants of Representation made by the Court since 1841. A microfiche copy of the register for the years 1841 to 1992 is available in most public libraries. After a Grant has issued in Victoria the record may be searched and copies obtained. However for a variety of reasons, Grants are not applied for in all estates and records are only available if a Grant has issued. Grants issued before 1 January 2008 can only be inspected at the Public Record Office Victoria. Contact the Public Record Office of Victoria at 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne. Telephone: (03) 9348 5370.
Q: What if I cannot attend the Probate Office to conduct a search?
A: Registry staff will conduct a search on your behalf in estates where a Grant may have issued after 1 January 2008. You can write to the Probate Office detailing the full name, address and date of death of the deceased. Fees will be payable if you require a copy of a record. Searches relating to Grants issued before 1 January 2008 must be conducted at the Public Record Office Victoria.
Q: How long does it take to process an application for a Grant of Representation?
A: After filing the application no further attendances are generally necessary and the Grant will issue in five working days. Grants are dispatched by mail to the lodging solicitor or person entitled.
Q: Can I deposit my will with the Registrar for safekeeping?
A:Yes, you may deposit a will with the Registrar. Any will deposited must be in a sealed envelope which has written on it -
- the Testator's name and address (as they appear in the will); and
- the name and address (as they appear in the will) of any Executor; and
- the date of the will; and
- the name of the person depositing the will.
In all cases a fee must be paid to deposit a will. You or your solicitor must attend the Probate Office in person to deposit a will.
Q: I am a beneficiary in a deceased estate. Can I request the filing of an Administration Account?
A: In all cases where the Court grants representation the person to whom the Grant is made undertakes when requested by the Court or the Registrar to file with the Court a true and just account verified by affidavit of the administration of the estate.
Any person with sufficient interest in the estate may request the Registrar to require the Executor or administrator to file an account. In determining the request, the Registrar considers the interests of the estate, the beneficiaries and the costs and inconvenience occasioned by the preparation of the account. On filing, the account is placed with the probate papers and is available for public search.
Q: Is an Executor entitled to commission?
A: Generally an Executor is only entitled to commission if so authorised by the will of the deceased, by the beneficiaries or by Order of the Court.
Q: I am the Executor to whom Probate was granted. Can I obtain a copy of the Grant?
A: The Court will issue for use in Victoria an Office Copy and for use outside Victoria an Exemplification. An Exemplification is, by definition, an official copy of a document. It is issued under the hand of the Registrar under the seal of the Court and may be used in lieu of the original Grant for all intents and purposes.
Q: My father is incapable of managing his own affairs and he does not have a will. Can anything be done?
A: The Wills Act 1997 enables the Court to authorise the making of a will, or the revocation of a will, for a person who lacks testamentary capacity. The application may be made by any person, but leave of the Court is required in order to make the application. If the Court authorises the making of a will then the original will is signed by the Registrar, and sealed with the Court Seal. The original is retained by the Registrar.
Q: What is a caveat?
A: A caveat is in affect a warning placed on a Court file which prevents proceedings to obtain a Grant of Representation except after notice to the caveator. If there are grave doubts as to the validity of a will an interested person may at any time before a Grant is issued file with the Registrar a caveat. The matter is then dealt with by a Judge of the Court.
Small Estates FAQs
Q: What do I bring to the appointment?
A: If the deceased left a will:
- the original will with details of the names and current residential addresses of the witnesses to the will,
- original death certificate,
- details and proof of assets eg: bank statements or passbooks, rate notices, title particulars, share certificates, etc.
If the deceased died intestate:
- the original death certificate
- details and proof of assets as above.