Probate Q&A

What is Probate?

A "Probate" is a certificate issued by the Probate Office (a division of the Supreme Court of Victoria). 

Beneficiaries often need it to authorise the transfer assets out of the name of someone who has died. Not all assets require such authorisation

How do you get probate?

By preparing an application and lodging it at the Probate Office in Melbourne. 

How long does it take?

Depends on how you do it. Minimum is about 2 months but it can be much more. If you use our DIY Probate Kit and you have details of assets, the time taken to get a death certificate can be the limiting factor. After you lodge your application the probate certificate is mailed to you in about a week (provided there are no questions to be answered).

Digging out details of assets/debts can be time consuming, and it is only the family that has access to such information (so they might as well prepare the application for Probate themselves!)

What does Probate cost?

Probate office application related fees vary with the estate value - see probate office fees

If you get a lawyer to prepare the application their fees seem to be around $4000 (but it depends on the estate being wound up). 

If you get a trustee company (like State Trustees) the fees are very high, because they charge a commission of typically 5% of the value of the estate PLUS lawyer fees PLUS PLUS.

Do I have to use a lawyer?

Certainly not. The Probate Office does not require it, and it has been dealing with our "In Person" (ie DIY) applicants since the 1980's.

Some people think that because the Will is being held by a solicitor then they have to use that solicitor to apply for probate. That is not the case - the executor can simply ask the solicitor to hand over the Will. With thousands of dollars in fees at stake the lawyer may try to persuade you that only they can do it right, but they can't refuse to give you the Will.