The Registrar of Probates, in defined circumstances, may provide assistance to persons who wish to obtain a Grant of Representation (Probate or Administration) in small estate matters. Eligibility for assistance is determined by the proposed applicant's relationship to the deceased and monetary threshold limits set out in the Act.
The Act defines a "small estate" as an estate where the gross value of solely owned assets does not exceed;
- $50,000 where the persons entitled to share in the estate are the children only or the partner only or the partner and children only or the sole surviving parent; or
- $25,000 where persons outside the above categories are entitled to share in the estate.
In eligible cases an officer of the Court (Small Estates Officer) obtains instructions from, prepares and lodges the application on behalf of the applicant. The assistance provided by the Court reduces the need for persons to retain a solicitor and acts as a legal aid service to the public.
If the applicant resides outside the 32 km radius from the GPO Melbourne the applicant may call upon the assistance of the Registrar of his or her local Magistrates' Court. Persons residing within the Melbourne area must apply at the Probate Office at Melbourne.
The Small Estates Officer or Registrar of the Magistrates' Court only deal with applications for basic Grants of Representation and do not render assistance in contentious or doubtful applications. In all cases proof to establish the identity and right or relationship of an applicant is required.