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, or
- make the application in person (without a solicitor).
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 not less than 14 clear days before the date of filing an application at the Probate Office. The current fee for lodging an advertisement is $45.50 and must be paid online with a credit card.
- 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.
- Download and save the relevant form kit below in Doc format to your computer. The forms contain the information needed to complete them. You cannot submit these forms electronically. They must be completed, printed and lodged in person at the Probate Office.
The text of a document must be printed or typewritten and shall be clear, sharp, legible and permanent.
- Probate - form kit
- Letters of administration with the will annexed - form kit
- Letters of administration - form kit
Helpful information relating to filling out the forms:
- The Plaintiff is the person(s) making the application for probate or administration.
- The date of the document should be the date the document is completed.
- Where "Prepared by" appears on the forms you should put the contact details for one of the people making the application. If you are making the application without a solicitor then please leave the 'Ref', 'DX' and 'Code' fields blank.
- The term deponent refers to a person that is swearing or affirming an affidavit in front of an authorised witness. In these forms the deponent is the person(s) making the application for probate or administration.
- It is not necessary to get an expensive valuation of assets such as real estate.
- If the Registrar is doubtful that the deceased and the two witnesses to the will were all together when the will was signed, an additional affidavit of due execution will be required by at least one witness to establish that the will was correctly signed in compliance with the Wills Act 1997. If part of the will has been torn or it appears as though there may have been an attempt to destroy it, the circumstances regarding its appearance must be explained by affidavit.
Note: The information and documents required for an application may vary from case to case. Our forms, particularly draft affidavits, should be used as a guide only. They do not cover all the various situations that can arise when applying for a grant. If you have difficultly completing the forms or need further guidance, please contact us. Probate Office staff can assist you with procedural matters, but are unable to provide legal advice.
All applications for probate or administration must be filed in person at the Probate Office. The Probate Office is located at Level 2, 436 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne and is open between 9:30am and 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). When you attend our office to lodge your application it is not necessary to make an appointment. Please ensure you bring the following when attending our office:
- A print out of the advertisement that you have placed online (see step 3 above)
- A print out of the relevant completed forms (see step 4 above)
- The original will/codicils if applying for 'probate' or 'letters of administration with the will annexed' (the original will is kept on the Court file after a grant is made, but a copy will be attached to the grant)
- The original and a photocopy of the death certificate issued by the Registrar of Births Death and Marriages, or an equivalent certificate (the original death certificate will be returned to you at the time of lodging your application)
- Any other affidavits or documents that are being lodged in support of your application.
As part of the application process you will be required to swear or affirm the supporting affidavits that are to be filed. Any person signing an affidavit must take an oath or affirmation, in the presence of an authorised witness, saying that they believe that its contents are true and correct. Affidavits can be sworn or affirmed in the Probate Office before one of our authorised witnesses.
If for any reason you are not getting all affidavits witnessed at the Probate Office, please take care to ensure each exhibit referred to in your affidavit (the will, death certificate and inventory) have been endorsed with an exhibit note and that each exhibit note is duly signed by the witness to your affidavit. Please read the information about who can witness affidavits and how to attach exhibit notes before having the affidavit witnessed.
- Take care not to tamper with the will in any way. You should not attach any other documents to the will, or remove staples or binding from the will.
- Note: the affidavit of publication and searches must be sworn or affirmed on the day of lodging the application. The necessary searches can be done online by visiting the Application, Caveat and Wills Indices or can be completed at our office.
- There is a fee for filing an application. Where the gross value of the estate is over $1,000, the current fee is $320.00. The fee can be paid at the Probate Office by cheque, money order, cash or via credit card/EFTPOS facilities.
Receiving your grant
Making or ordering copies of the grant Once you receive your grant it will often be necessary to provide a certified copy of the grant to financial or other institutions to prove you are the person authorised by the Court to administer the estate. You can make photocopies of the grant and get those copies certified by someone who is authorised to certify documents, such as a Justice of the Peace.
- If further information is required from you before we issue the grant we will write or email detailing further steps required.
- Your grant will be posted to you after five to ten business days. A copy of the will is annexed to the grant in estates where the deceased has left a valid will.
- The role of the Probate Office ends when the grant is issued. We cannot advise you on how to administer the estate.
If you require an official copy issued by the Court, such as an exemplification (for use outside of Victoria) or an office copy (for use in Victoria), you will need to complete the exemplification and office copy application form and pay the relevant fee. For more information about exemplifications or office copies please read the information available in the application form.