Frequently Asked Questions

There are many tasks to take care of when someone passes away. We understand that this is a difficult time and we are here to assist you in every way we can.

Click on the link below to access our guide on the immediate steps to take when someone passes away:

In NSW, Grants of Probate can only be granted if the deceased left assets within the state. If the assets are in another state or territory of Australia or in other countries, you may be able to apply for a reseal of the original Grant in that other jurisdiction. Otherwise, you may need to apply for a fresh grant in the other country.

If the deceased died without a will, then they are said to have died “intestate”. In NSW, the relevant “laws of intestacy” will then apply. This is to determine who’s entitled to receive the deceased’s assets. The people who are entitled to receive the assets will depend on the relationships the deceased had. In relation to that, it will also depend on the relevant people who have survived him or her. In some circumstances, where there is no surviving spouse (including de facto spouse) children or other relatives, the estate may pass to the government.

If you can’t find the original will, it’s sometimes possible to obtain a Grant of Probate of a copy of the will. However, this can be complicated.

Generally, in NSW a will is revoked upon marriage, unless the will is expressed to be made in contemplation of marriage. Contact us to find out more.

No. You are not obligated to use the solicitor who prepared the will for the deceased. If you have been appointed as the Executor of the will, you have the right to seek advice from any other solicitor.

If you would like us to act for you, we can obtain the original will from the solicitor who holds it, on your behalf.

The Court may still accept the will even if the document that appears to be a will is undated or unsigned. Evidence may need to be provided as to when the will was created or executed. This will be particularly important if there is another will, to establish which was the last-made will.

Someone may contest the validity of the will. For example, on the grounds that it was not signed correctly, the will-maker did not have the required mental capacity to make a will, the will-maker did not know or approve of the contents of the will, the will-maker’s signature was forged or the will-maker was subjected to undue influence when making the will. Certain eligible people may also make a claim to receive more from the estate. Court proceedings may be commenced to resolve the dispute. Contact us for more information about what to do in these circumstances.

Step 1 – Seek Advice

We can help you understand your duties and obligations and guide you through the process.

Step 2 – Conduct searches to check that there is no later will

If there is a later will, then it may appoint someone else to act as Executor. See our information sheet on the searches that should be undertaken to ascertain whether there is a later will or codicil, by clicking the link below:

Step 3 – Decide whether you wish to accept the appointment as Executor or whether you wish to renounce

If you were appointed as an Executor, you don’t need to accept the appointment if you don’t want to. You have a choice. If you don’t wish to accept the appointment, then you will need to “renounce” by signing the relevant form.

Steps 4 – Make an application for Probate of the Will

If you wish to accept your appointment as Executor, then you should contact us to discuss making an application for a Grant of Probate of the will to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.


The Executor is the person who is appointed or named in the Will to act as the Executor.

The Executor is responsible for collecting the deceased’s assets. He is also responsible for paying any debts and liabilities of the deceased or of the estate. More importantly, the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries, in accordance with the provisions of the Will.

You may be able to make a claim against the estate if you have been left out of a will or you have not been left enough to provide for your needs.

You should take the following steps as soon as possible:

  1. Contact the executor and/or the solicitor acting for the estate and try to obtain a copy of the will, if you do not already have it;

  2. Contact us as quickly as possible as time limits apply.

  3. Find out more about family provision claims in our knowledge hub.

Testamentary capacity is the legal term used to describe a person’s legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid will. In order to create a valid will, the deceased must have testamentary capacity at the time they executed it. The test for testamentary capacity is that the will-maker:

(a)must understand the nature and significance of the act of making a will;

(b) understands the nature, extent, and value of their estate;

(c) needs to be capable of comprehending and appreciating the claims of those who might expect to receive something from his or her estate; and

(d) did not suffer from a delusion that influenced the terms of the will at the time it was made (i.e., was the will ‘tainted’ by delusions the deceased was suffering at the time?).

A codicil is a document that amends or adds to, rather than replaces, a previously executed will.

An affidavit is a written statement of evidence that has been sworn or affirmed as being truthful before an appropriate person, such as a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.

In some cases where the original will cannot be found but there is a copy of a will – which is believed to be the last will of the deceased. The executor named in the “copy will” may be able to apply for probate of the copy of the will.

Searches must be done to try to locate the original Will.

If the evidence suggests that the original will was last in the possession of the deceased then if the original will can not be found, there is a presumption that the deceased revoked the will by destroying the original will. To rebut this presumption, the application will need to be supported by evidence that goes to prove that the deceased did not revoke the will. Such evidence can include conversations the deceased may have had to the effect that the deceased believed that the will was still in existence but could also include evidence as to there being no substantial change of circumstances since the will was originally made that may have led to an expectation that the deceased may have changed their will.

In most cases, if the deceased owned real property or assets in their sole name, a grant of probate is required before the assets can be transferred to the beneficiaries. There are exceptions – see the answer to the question: When is Probate not required?

Depending on the type, size and value of the assets located in New South Wales it may not be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate. Some asset holders will often release assets of low value without the need for probate to be obtained, but they will usually require an indemnity to be provided by the person to whom they intend to release the money or asset. You should seek legal advice before signing any such document.

Step 1

An online Probate Notice of your intention to apply for a grant must be published, on the NSW online registry website, for at least 14 days, before lodging a summons for a grant of probate with the Court. This allows time for any creditors or claimants to make a claim if required.

Step 2

After the 14 days has lapsed, the application may be filed in the Supreme Court of NSW Probate registry.

Step 3

The court will review the submitted documents which will be a minimum of 5 working days.

The time taken will depend on the workload of the Court.

Probate is a court order granted by the Supreme Court of NSW. It confirms the will is valid, and the executor has permission to distribute the estate.

Legal Terms

This is a legal term to describe the person who has made a will.

The beneficiary is any person named in the will as being entitled to receive a gift or share of the estate.

If a person dies without a Will, they are said to have died “intestate” and the laws of intestacy will govern the distribution of their assets.

For a Will to be valid, the will must be in writing and signed by the testator. This should be done in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will with the presence of all parties involved. However, a document that does not meet these formal requirements (referred to as “informal wills”) can be admitted to probate if the Court is satisfied that the deceased intended the document to operate as will.

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