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If you need a grant of probate or administration for a small estate, the probate office may be able to help.

Currently, section 71 of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 defines a 'small estate' as an estate where the gross value of solely owned assets does not exceed $112,970. This amount changes each financial year. The date of death determines the applicable small estate amount. Previous small estate amounts are as follows:

1 July 2015 - 30 June 2016 $101,430
1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017 $103,340
1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018 $104,870
1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019 $107,160
1 July 2019 - 30 June 2020 $109,350
1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021 $111,540

In eligible cases a court officer (Small Estates Officer) will obtain instructions and prepare the application. The assistance provided by the Court reduces the need for persons to retain a solicitor and effectively acts as a legal aid service to the public.

If the applicant lives more than 32 km from Melbourne they may call upon the assistance of the Registrar at their local Magistrates' Court. People living within the Melbourne area must apply at the Probate Office at Melbourne.

The Small Estates Officer and Registrar of the Magistrates' Court only deal with applications for basic grants of representation. They cannot provide assistance in contentious or doubtful applications. In all cases, proof that establishes the identity and right or relationship of an applicant is required. Fees apply for these services.

If you do not wish to engage the assistance of the Small Estates Officer, we have some information on grants of probate and administration that may help.