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What is Probate?

Probate is the process of proving and registering in the Supreme Court the last Will of a deceased person. When a person dies, somebody has to deal with their estate.

It is usually the executor of their Will who administers the estate and handles the disposal of their assets and debts. In order to get authority to do this, they usually need to obtain a legal document called a 'Grant of Probate'.

To protect the interests of those who hold the deceased's assets (for example banks) the executor may be asked to prove they are authorised to administer the Will before the assets can be released. The Grant of Probate is the proof required.

To obtain a Grant of Probate, the executor named in the Will must apply to the Probate Office of the Supreme Court. If their application is approved, the executor is given a Grant of Probate to confirm the author of the Will has died, the Will is authentic and the executor is who they say they are.

An executor can be an individual or a trustee company like the Public Trustee. Once a Grant of Probate has been given, management of the deceased's assets can safely be transferred to the executor.

All Grants of Probate are stored, along with the corresponding Will, at the Supreme Court. These are public documents. If a deceased person does not have a Will, validation of their estate and benefactors is not done with a Grant of Probate, but with a similar document known as 'letters of administration'.

In these circumstances, the Probate Registry refers to the Administration Act to assess applications.

Please note that the Public Trustee only applies for the Grant of Probate for those estates where it has been nominated as Executor in a Will.

The Public Trustee does not supply ‘Grant of Probate’ application forms or provide assistance to complete applications.

The Citizens Advice Bureau of WA sells a probate kit and provides probate application assistance (there is a booking fee for the interview). For more information, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau of WA on (08) 9221 5711.

For more detailed information about the Probate Registry, visit the website of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Here you will find answers to many frequently asked questions, including:

  • How do I know if probate is required?
  • How much are the probate fees?
  • How long does probate take to issue from the date of application?
  • How do I apply if there is no Will?

Probate Registry
Department of Justice
Supreme Court of WA
Level 11, David Malcolm Justice Centre
28 Barrack Street
Phone: (08) 9421 5333
Fax: (08) 9421 5353

The Probate Registry is open to the public from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Last updated: 15-Apr-2019

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