A common question asked of wills and estate planning lawyers is how to locate a will after somebody passes away. The last will and testament is an important document, especially to beneficiaries or people who were dependent on the deceased’s when they died. A probate search for a will may enable you to locate a copy of their will in Victoria.
Probate search for a recently deceased person’s will
Once a will is filed for probate, it then becomes public property. However, it can still only be viewed by people who have the right to see the will.
Every state in Australia has a different procedure for obtaining a will. In Victoria, you start by contacting the Probate Office, which is a branch of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Here are the steps to search for a will in the probate office, once you have determined that you have a right to see the will:
- Make sure a record exists for the will in the Application, Caveats and Wills Indices by looking it up here.
- Go to the probate office, located in the Melbourne CBD, to place a probate search request. You may have to go back the following business day to retrieve the information after the representative has searched for the record for you.
- Scan your documents by bringing a USB along with you. If you don’t do this, you can buy photocopies at the probate office.
- If you cannot get to the probate office to complete the probate search, you can write to the probate office. If you do this, make sure you still complete step 1 by checking that the record exists. Then send the probate office a letter or email. Make sure you include the full name and date of death for the deceased so the office can locate the will.
Searching for a will filed more a year ago
The probate office only holds recent records of last wills and testaments. Anything older than the beginning of the previous year will likely have been transferred for archival at the Public Record Office Victoria.