Probate Registry (Vic)

The Probate Registry Office of the Supreme Court of Victoria deals with applications for probate grants. When a person dies in Victoria, an executor or prospective administrator checks with the Probate Registry to establish whether the court has already issued a grant of probate in relation to the deceased. If no current grant exists, then they need to apply for the appropriate grant. This article outlines the Probate Registry’s role in administering deceased estates.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of validating a person’s will. A grant of probate marks the official start of the wind up of a testator’s affairs. A grant of probate is a court document that officially recognises the will’s validity, and an executor’s authority to administer the estate.

Under the Administration and Probate Act 1958, a probate grant can only be issued for the administration of the estate a deceased who lived in Victoria or who owned real property within Victoria.  

Probate Registry Grants

The Probate Registry of the Supreme Court of Victoria issues several different grants, depending on the circumstances. A Grant of Probate is issued to one or more appointed executors who have been named in a valid will. If the named executor cannot apply for a grant of probate then an eligible party can make an application for Letters of Administration With The Will Annexed. If, on the other hand, a person has died intestate (without making a will), or their will is found to be invalid, then a close relative should apply to the Probate Registry for Letters of Administration.

Applying To The Probate Registry

The personal representative of the deceased (the executor or administrator) must file certain documents in the form of an application together with affidavits, including an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the estate, an affidavit stating that the appropriate searched have been conducted and that the representative has published notices, and the final order. The Probate Registry requires that these documents are completed with great accuracy and filed in adherence with the procedural rules.

The Notice Of Intention To Apply

Before a person can file for a probate grant, they must advertise their intention to apply for 14 days on the Probate Online Advertising System (POAS) of the Registry. The advertisement must be carefully drafted as it is the basis of all probate applications in Victoria. There are procedural rules governing the wording of the Notice of Intention to Apply. The advertisement must include:

  • The names of the deceased and applicant, and all their former names;
  • The deceased’s permanent address before their death;
  • The nature of the application;
  • Whether there is a valid will;
  • Whether a named executor has passed away or legally renounced their responsibility;
  • Whether the applicant is reserving leave for another named executor to come forward in the future;
  • The details of any testamentary papers (wills and codicils), including if any of these have previously been revoked. Any undated documents should be assigned an estimated date.

How Long Does A Grant of Probate Take?

The Probate Registry of Victoria usually issues a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in less than three weeks. However, the personal representative should be prepared for the application to take months to complete. An executor or administrator is responsible for the following:

  • Obtaining an original death certificate or Interim Death Certificate;
  • Identifying the deceased’s assets and assigning a value to them and making a list of the liabilities of the estate;
  • Contacting financial institutions that hold the deceased’s assets of the deceased;
  • Placing an advertisement on the POAS of the Registry.

When Applications To The Probate Registry Are Not Necessary

It is not always necessary to apply to the Probate Registry. Sometimes the testamentary circumstances of the deceased do not warrant a grant. A grant is needed mainly to authorise asset holders, such as banks, to release the deceased’s assets to the executor or administrator.

If the monetary value of the estate is small, or the deceased has made arrangements for their major assets to be transferred automatically after their death, then a grant may not be necessary. For instance, if they made arrangements for a Binding Death Benefit Nomination (BDBN) on their superannuation benefits and life insurance payouts then the beneficiary would immediately receive the funds upon their death.

If the only property owned by the deceased when they died was held in joint tenancy with another person, then the deceased’s share does not form part of the estate. Instead, it passes directly to the surviving ower through the Right of Survivorship.

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

Author

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 Armstrong Legal in 2020.
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