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The Probate Kit

Your Probate application Options in Victoria

What Probate costs you depends on how you do it, and you have three options:
  • Do it yourself
  • Pay a solicitor, or
  • Pay a trustee company.


You do NOT have to use a solicitor to apply for Probate. Even if the Will names a solicitor "to supply legal services to the estate", you do not have to employ that solicitor (or any other).


If the Will appoints a solicitor as executor they might try to insist on applying for Probate, or they might agree to a request from the family that they do not apply.


A Supreme Court committee recommended some years back that solicitors do NOT draft wills appointing themselves as executor (because of the conflict of interest involved).

PROBATE OPTION 1: Do it Yourself

Our Probate Kit shows you how to apply for probate yourself, so that:

  • you pay no lawyer fees
  • you get Probate in the shortest time, and
  • your inheritance stays under your personal control the whole time, and you usually get access to it much more quickly.


The Probate Kit saves you about 95% of what solicitors typically charge merely to prepare and lodge your application.


When you apply for Probate yourself you have to lodge the application "in person" at the Probate Office in Melbourne. People from interstate can avoid traveling to Melbourne to lodge their application by getting a solicitor to do just the lodging for them, which costs much less than getting a solicitor to handle the whole thing for you.

PROBATE OPTION 2: Pay a Solicitor

Lawyers (solicitors) have two fees:


  • FEE 1 is just to prepare the application for Probate and lodge it at the Probate Office. Price fixing operates, and the price rises with the value of the estate. For example, it is close to $1000 for a $100,000 estate (even though most of the work is digging out details about assets, which the family still has to do anyway)


  • FEE 2 is to arrange to get assets released and then distribute them to beneficiaries. This fee is based on each "item" of work, and it varies widely, but is usually thousands of dollars.


If the lawyer also acts as an executor, they might also be entitled to "executor's commission" of 3% to 5% of the estate.


HIDDEN COSTS: There might be another cost in getting a lawyer to apply for probate, although it is hidden from view - it is the cost of losing the interest on your inheritance before it is distributed (perhaps 6 months or more).

PROBATE OPTION 3: Pay a Trustee Company

Employing trustee companies is a very effective way of losing a big slice of your inheritance, because trustee companies typically take 5% of the value of the estate - a lot of money.
Plus GST.
Plus legal expenses.
Plus other expenses.


A quick calculation says it all: 5.5% of a million dollar estate is $55,000 - for something you can easily do yourself.


You would need a really compelling reason to choose a trustee company (including State Trustees) as a method of getting probate.


Some people feel compelled to use the trustee company that prepared the Will because in the Will the trustee company appointed themselves as executor (a practice that should be banned). We have heard of cases though where the trustee company agreed to family requests that they do not act as executor. In such cases the trustee company might formally "renounce" the right to apply.


Our Recommendation

We recommend our DIY option (naturally!)