It is the role of the Supreme Courts, across all states in Australia, is to asses and to make orders concerning the validity of a Will allowing for the estate to be distributed. This process is called “Probate”, and the letter confirming the court’s decision and the appointment of the executor/s is “Grant of Probate”.
To understand how you can apply for a grant of probate in your state, please refer to the “Do I Need an Estate Plan” post.
What is a Probate Registry?
The Probate Registry is the division within the court that deals with probate application and other relevant materials. The court maintains a register of all probates and related matters granted by the court.
The Probate Registry manages this work and maintains all associated records.
Once all legal processes have concluded, the public can request access to these documents. For example, members of the family can access their deceased loved one’s Will and probate documents.
CourtSA Probate Registry
South Australia is the first Australian jurisdiction to offer digital probate registry and lodgements via the CourtSA portal.
As of November 2018, all probate lodgements must be made electronically via CourtSA, where users are also able to download grant documents issued after January 1980.
Applying for a grant of probate is a complex process and often requires the deceased’s loved ones to contact an estate planning attorney. The online probate lodgement process guides the user through a series of smart forms designed to streamline the end-to-end process. This level of access may lead to more people opting to self-serve their probate applications, especially where the Will is straightforward.
NSW Online Registry
New South Wales offers online probate applications through the NSW Online Registry. While you need to register before you can lodge a probate application or publish a probate notice, anyone can search probate notices published online on or after 21 January 2013.
The Queensland Supreme Court offers limited online functionality relating to Will and probates.
Queensland is the only jurisdiction in Australia where it is not required for an application for probate in all cases. Therefore the Supreme Court does not necessarily hold the related documents.
For a complete view of the process, please refer to the QLD Courts website.
VIC Probate Office
The Supreme Court of Victoria does not offer an online solution for probate applications or probate registry. The public can, however, request copies of Wills, probate and related documents in person for a fee. The Victorian Probate Register does offer an online search for users to confirm the availability of material before making such a submission.
In NT, you will need to submit your application for probate to the NT Supreme Court.
In WA, you will need to submit your probate application to the WA Supreme Court. They offer an online Probate Wizard that can assist you in identifying the correct forms.
Australian Capital Territory
In the ACT, you will need to submit your application for probate to the ACT Supreme Court.