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Probate Registry In Sydney

An executor or administrator embarking on deceased estate administration will often need to liaise with the Probate Registry in Sydney. For instance, an executor or administrator may need to apply for a probate grant, or publish a notice with the Registry. This article explains the role of the Probate Registry in Sydney in relation to the administration of a deceased estate.

The role of the Probate Registry in Sydney

The Supreme Court of New South Wales has exclusive jurisdiction over the administration of deceased estates within that state. When someone who lived or owned real property in NSW passes away, a personal representative typically has to apply to the Probate Registry to validate the will and obtain legal authority to manage the deceased estate. Under the Supreme Court Rules 1970, the Probate Registry reviews probate grant applications and keeps an online register of issued grants.

Probate Registry in Sydney: notices

Firstly, the personal representative in charge of the estate needs to ensure that there is no duplicate notice on file with the Probate Registry. The next step for the executor or administrator is to create an online account with the Registry, and make a note of the court case number, as this will need to be attached to court documents going forward. Under the Probate and Administration Act 1898, an applicant must publish a  ‘Notice of Intended Application for Probate, Administration or Reseal’ 14 days before applying for a probate grant.

An applicant needs to take particular care when preparing this notice for lodgment with the Probate Registry, as inaccuracies will cause delay to the application process. An executor or administrator needs to collect together correct information relating to the deceased’s date of death, the address of the executor/s (if any), the purpose of the grant or reseal, and any testamentary documents. The notice should be worded to reduce confusion and convey whether or not:

  • The executor is known by any other name;
  • The application is made in reference to the deceased’s will;
  • An appointed executor is renouncing responsibility;
  • An appointed executor has predeceased the testator;
  • An alternative executor is applying for a grant of probate; and
  • The applicant wants to validate an informal will.

During the notice period, eligible people can challenge the validity of the will or present a more current will or codicil. This is also a period during which creditors can make a claim against the estate, and relatives, dependents and those in a close personal relationship with the deceased can prepare to make a Family Provision Claim.

Once the applicant has completed the requirement to give notice, the next step is to apply to the Registry for a probate grant. The Probate Registry is able to issue several different types of grants, specifically a:

  • Grant of Probate (where an appointed executor makes an application to validate a will);
  • Grant of Letters of Administration With the Will Annexed (where an eligible administrator makes an application to validate a will); or
  • Grant of Letters of Administration Without a Will (where an eligible administrator makes an application to administrate an intestate estate).

Probate Registry in Sydney: other notices

Even after the personal representative has obtained a probate grant, he or she may need to return to the Probate Registry to publish another notice, such as a ‘Notice of Intended Distribution of an Estate’, or a ‘Notice of Filing of Accounts’.

Publishing a notice before distributing the assets of the estate is not legally necessary, but it does afford the personal representative a degree of protection from personal liability claims. The representative should lodge the notice of accounts within a year of receiving the probate grant. This particular notice is intended to notify creditors and beneficiaries that the accounts will be available for inspection at the court. Interested parties can view the accounts and object to the court approving the accounts or an executor’s commission.

Is it necessary to apply to the Probate Registry in Sydney?

Under some circumstances, a person in charge of a deceased estate may decide it is not necessary to apply to the Registry.

Typically, an executor or administrator can handle a smaller estate with few assets or low value assets without publishing a notice or obtaining a grant from the Probate Registry in Sydney. Financial institutions will often release a smaller value asset if the personal representative is willing to assume legal responsibility for any future claims against the asset. In addition, where a deceased owns assets jointly with a spouse, there is no need to obtain a grant to transfer ownership, as the asset automatically passes to the surviving owner.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.
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