If a person dies leaving assets in Victoria, the executor or next of kin of the deceased person may need to apply for a grant of probate or administration to deal with the estate left behind.
There are a few ways to obtain a grant. You may either:
- instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf;
- authorise a trustee company to act as executor or administrator;
- make the application as a self-represented person (without a solicitor); or
- if eligible, instruct the Probate Office small estates optional service to prepare your application.
Currently, about 95 per cent of applications are filed by solicitors or trustee companies, but, in many instances, applying for a grant is often a straightforward procedure. If you would like to apply for a grant, you should follow the steps listed below.
It is not always necessary to apply for probate or administration when someone passes away. Often it will depend on what assets have been left behind by the deceased, and the requirements of institutions holding those assets. If you are not sure whether you need to obtain a grant, you should read the information about grants of probate and administration of deceased estates. Please note that an application for probate or administration can only be made to the Supreme Court of Victoria if there are assets located in Victoria.
Firstly, it is necessary to find out whether the person who has passed away left a valid will. It may be necessary to make enquiries with the deceased's friends and family and search through the personal papers of the deceased. If a valid will has been executed by the deceased then you would apply for either 'probate' or 'letters of administration with the will annexed'.
To apply for 'probate' you must be:
- over 18 years, and
- an executor named in the will.
To apply for 'letters of administration with the will annexed' you must be:
- the major beneficiary under the will of the deceased, and the executor is unable to apply. For example, when the person named as executor has died before the deceased and a substitute executor is not named in the will.
If the deceased did not leave a validly executed will then you will need to apply for letters of administration.
To apply for 'letters of administration':
You must be the deceased's closest next of kin. You can apply for 'letters of administration' in the following order of priority:
- lawful spouse or domestic partner
- children, excluding step children, but including children adopted by the deceased
- brothers or sisters
- remoter next of kin.
- A notice of an intended application (advertisement) for a grant must be published on the probate online advertising system at least 15 days before filing an application with the Probate Office.
- Please note that if you are advertising for a grant of 'probate' or 'letters of administration with the will annexed' your advertisement and supporting affidavit must refer to any executors that are not applying. Before placing your advertisement we strongly recommend that you view the advertising guidance notes and frequently asked questions.
To complete an application for a grant of representation, log-in to RedCrest-Probate. If you do not have an account, you will need to register to begin a new application. Select “File a New Application”, then select “Apply for a grant or to reseal”.
You will be guided through questions to enable an affidavit and an inventory of assets and liabilities to be prepared. Once you have generated these documents, review the content. If you need to make changes, go back to your application to correct the details and generate the documents again. If any additional clauses are required in the affidavit, you must amend the affidavit as appropriate before printing.
Your draft application will remain in the system for 30 days after the date it was last saved, and can be found in the 'My Drafts and Filings' tab of RedCrest-Probate.
Once printed, the affidavit must be witnessed by a person authorised to take an oath or affirmation with all exhibits referred to in the affidavit present at that time. If you wish, you can book an appointment to have the affidavit witnessed at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne.
For guidance on how a sworn/affirmed affidavit should appear, please view the completed sample affidavit and exhibits.
Once witnessed, upload the affidavit, all exhibits and a copy of the advertisement to RedCrest-Probate in PDF format. The documents are to be uploaded to your draft application which can be found in the “My Drafts and Filings” tab on the home screen. Each document must be scanned and uploaded separately.
When scanning the original will (and any original codicil(s)) you must not remove any staples or bindings.
Once the application has been submitted, an originating motion will be generated.
If applying for Letters of Administration (no will), you are not required to do anything further.
If applying for Probate, Letters of Administration (with will annexed) or a Reseal, you will need to print and deliver the originating motion with the original will, codicil(s) (if any) or grant for resealing to the court within 28 days of submitting the application.
The originating motion, original will, codicil(s) (if any) or grant for resealing are to be delivered by post:
Registrar of Probates
Supreme Court of Victoria
PO Box 13331
Law Courts VIC 8010
If we require further information before we issue the grant, you will receive an email that details the further steps required.
If a grant is made, you will be able to view the original grant via RedCrest-Probate. The original grant is an electronic document that can be viewed in RedCrest-Probate.
Asset holders may wish to view the original grant in RedCrest-Probate. To enable them to do so, you will need to provide them with both the application number and a unique identifier (both of which appear on the grant). The Court is not able to provide these details to asset holders.
The role of the Probate Office ends when the grant is issued. We cannot advise you how to administer the estate.
A person who needs to apply for a grant of representation, either a grant of probate or letters of administration, can use the Probate Office’s service for small estates.
For a fee, the Probate Office will prepare the paperwork to apply for a grant of representation on your behalf, which is called the small estates optional service.
Further information about eligibility and the process involved can be found on the small estates optional service page.