If a person dies leaving assets in South Australia, a legal personal representative may need to apply to the Court for a grant through CourtSA.

The Probate Registry of the Supreme Court of South Australia issues grants recognising that appointment of a legal personal representative. There must be an asset in South Australian for the Probate Registry to have jurisdiction to issue a grant – section 5 Administration and Probate Act 1919.

There are a few ways to obtain a grant. You may either:

  • instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf;
  • authorise the Public Trustee to act as administrator;
  • consent to a trustee company to acting as executor  or administrator; or
  • make the application yourself (without a solicitor).

Any reference to a rule is referring to the Probate Rules 2015.

If you have elected to proceed as a self-represented litigant it is strongly recommended you consider Practice Note 1 of 2019

The questions on CourtSA do not cover all possible situations and it may be that when your application is examined further questions will be raised.

Depending on the type, size and value of the assets it may not be necessary to obtain a grant in South Australia. There is no statutory requirement to obtain a grant in every case.

The Court does not decide whether a grant is required to administer the estate.

A grant is required when a third party (e.g. Land Services SA, nursing homes, banks, company share registries etc) will not release the asset without a formal grant from the Probate Registry. The grant provides assurance to the third party of the appointment of the legal personal representative. 

Some third parties will release an asset without the need for a grant. You should contact each third party and find out whether a grant is required to release the asset.

The nature and extent of the assets of the deceased

In some circumstances deceased estates can be administered informally (that is, without a grant). Some organisations, such as banks and insurance companies, may release money without seeing a grant if the amount held in the name of the deceased is minimal and there are no complications. However, conditions may be imposed.

If the deceased owned real estate either solely or as a tenant in common

Without a grant Land Services SA will not process a transfer of the deceased’s sole interest or an interest as a tenant in common in real estate.

If the assets are jointly owned

If the deceased’s assets are held in a joint tenancy then, the provision of a death certificate may be enough for the deceased’s interest to be transferred to the surviving joint holder.

The requirements of a superannuation fund to pay out a death benefit

Superannuation trustees may pay the funds directly to a nominee pursuant to a binding death benefit nomination. If the nomination lapses or is invalid, the trustees may choose to pay the funds to a specific person (for example, a spouse or dependants) or to the deceased’s estate.

Probate Registry staff cannot provide assistance with queries regarding superannuation. You will need to contact the superannuation fund.

You need to work out the type of grant for your circumstances. The Probate Registry cannot make this decision for you.

Below are the main types of grants and the fundamental requirements for each:

Grant of Probate

  • There is a Will with a valid appointment of executor(s) and you are the/one of the executors named in the Will.
  • Refer to Rule 33

Letters of administration with the Will annexed

  • There is a Will but no appointment of executors or the executorial appointment does not operate and a person other than the executor applies for a grant as administrator.
  • Refer to Rule 33(3)-(7) for the order of priority of who can apply as the administrator.

Letters of Administration

  • There is no Will and you are the person highest in priority to claim a grant.
  • Refer to Rule 34 for the order of priority.

Reseal of a grant

  • You have a grant from an interstate Court or from a foreign Court and you require it to be sealed in South Australia to deal with the assets here.
  • Refer to Rule 50 and Section 17 Administration and Probate Act 191.

Information sessions held by the Probate Registry

If you wish to attend there are sessions held by the Probate Registry on a regular basis explaining how to navigate CourtSA. This is procedural information only. No legal advice will be given.

When: once a month

  • 3rd Wednesday of the month – 3pm-4pm

Where:  Sessions will be held in the Jury Room in the Sir Samuel Way Building, 241-259 Victoria Square, Adelaide, 5000.

A word of caution before you proceed if you are not represented by a solicitor and intend to make your application personally

A personal application is likely to be far more onerous than your friends and family will tell you. Making an application for a grant is not simply a matter of filling in forms and paying the Court fee.

Considerations for self-represented litigants

The person or persons applying for a grant should also be aware that:

  • the Rules of the Court preclude Probate Registry staff from giving legal advice;
  • documents leading to the grant require various undertakings to the Court;
  • the correct administration of a deceased estate may involve the application of technical legal rules;
  • applying for probate and administering an estate are technical processes that require an understanding of the law and both Court practice and Court procedure;
  • there may be taxation consequences and responsibilities arising from the administration of the trust estate; and
  • an executor or administrator may be personally liable for both breach of trust and damages arising from negligence.

Difficulties frequently encountered in an application for a grant include:

  • paper clip marks or additional staple holes in the Will;
  • a signature of the person who made the Will where the signature is not clear or which suggests frailty;
  • a signature of the person who made the Will where the surname or initials differ from the name at the head of the Will;
  • the absence of a date to the Will;
  • the date of the Will being obscured, incomplete or altered;
  • the absence of an attestation clause in the Will or an insufficient attestation clause in the Will;
  • the use by the person who made the Will and the witnesses to the Will of different pens thereby raising doubt on whether all present together when the Will was executed; and
  • any alteration to the text of the Will not properly authenticated.

These difficulties require the applicant to submit one or more additional affidavits in support of the application. The preparation of the additional affidavits may involve technical research and may take considerable time.

If you have any doubt about your legal position and responsibilities, then you should obtain legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in probate work. The Law Society of South Australia at 178 North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000 can provide you with a list of such solicitors. Telephone: (08) 8229 0200.

The information below sets out the minimum documentation you will need to make an application for a grant of probate, letters of administration with the Will annexed and letters of administration without the Will.

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide additional information.

Probate

If you are making an application for a grant of probate, the minimum documentation you need to complete the CourtSA Grant Application form is:

1. Original Will and any codicil/s

The original Will and any codicils – (a codicil is an addition to the Will that changes the Will in some way) MUST be marked accordance with Rule 15(a) before being lodged in the Probate Registry. See Step 7 for more information about lodging the Will.

It is very important that you do not remove any staples or clips holding the Will (and codicils) together.

When you scan the Will to upload a copy to your grant application DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES. If the staples or clips have already been removed, do not re-staple or clip the Will.  

The scanned copy of the Will (and codicil(s)) must be as one document and not separate pages.  For more information about why this is important, view here.

Ensure that you have the Will and any codicil accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

2. Death certificate

The death certificate you provide must be a true and complete copy of the original, AND BOTH SIDES must be scanned and uploaded.

Ensure that you have the death certificate accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

An interim death certificate is acceptable.

If the person died overseas refer to Rule 28. View help if deceased died outside Australia.

3. Details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person

You must provide information about all assets and liabilities as at date of death, including those located interstate and if the deceased died domiciled in Australia their assets overseas. Assets include real estate, house contents, money in bank accounts, investments, motor vehicles and other possessions. Liabilities include legal expenses, tax, mortgages or other debts existing at date of death but not funeral expenses.

Refer to Section 121A Administration and Probate Act 1919, Rule 8, Practice Note 2 of 2018.

4. 100 points of identification for self-represented litigants

You must provide the Probate Registry with verification of your identity. This can be completed by an authorised person being one of the following:


i. a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits in the Supreme Court of South Australia; or
ii. a person duly authorised to administer oaths in any State or Territory of Australia; or
iii. a Judicial Registrar, Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, the District Court, the Environment, Resources and Development Court and the Magistrates Court within South Australia.

Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019 for the requisite documents and list of acceptable documents for 100 points of ID.

Ensure that you have the verification of identity accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

5. Credit card to pay the lodgement fee

To submit your application, you will need a credit card to pay the fee.

Letters of Administration with the Will annexed

If you are making an application for a grant of letters of administration with the Will annexed, the minimum documentation you need to complete the CourtSA Grant Application form is:

1. Administrator’s oath

For help on which oath to prepare, view hereIf after reading the page about administrator’s oaths you still do not know which one you need you must seek legal advice from a solicitor. Registry staff cannot provide legal advice.

You will need to upload a signed and duly witnessed oath. Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019, Rule 30 and notes 1-6 to Form 22 for guidance on the requirements of a duly signed and witnessed oath/affidavit.
Ensure that you have the signed oath accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form

2. Original Will and any codicil/s

The original Will and any codicils – (a codicil is an addition to the Will that changes the Will in some way) MUST be marked accordance with Rule 15(a) before being lodged in the Probate Registry. See Step 7 for more information about lodging the Will.

It is very important that you do not remove any staples or clips holding the Will (and codicils) together.

When you scan the Will to upload a copy to your grant application DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES. If the staples or clips have already been removed, do not re-staple or clip the Will.  

The scanned copy of the Will (and codicil(s)) must be as one document and not separate pages. For more information about why this is important, view here.

Ensure that you have the Will and any codicil accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

3.  Death certificate

The death certificate you provide must be a true and complete copy of the original, AND BOTH SIDES must be scanned and uploaded.

Ensure that you have the death certificate accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

An interim death certificate is acceptable.

If the person died overseas refer to Rule 28. View here for more information.

4. Details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person

 You must provide information about all assets and liabilities as at date of death, including those located interstate and if the deceased died domiciled in Australia their assets overseas. Assets include real estate, house contents, money in bank accounts, investments, motor vehicles and other possessions. Liabilities include legal expenses, tax, mortgages or other debts existing at date of death but not funeral expenses.

Refer to Section 121A Administration and Probate Act 1919, Rule 8, Practice Note 2 of 2018.

5. 100 Points of identification for self-represented litigants. 100 points of identification for self-represented litigants

You must provide the Probate Registry with verification of your identity. This can be completed by an authorised person being one of the following:


i. a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits in the Supreme Court of South Australia; or

ii. a person duly authorised to administer oaths in any State or Territory of Australia; or
iii. a Judicial Registrar, Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, the District Court, the Environment, Resources and Development Court and the Magistrates Court within South Australia.

Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019 for the requisite documents and list of acceptable documents for 100 points of ID.

Ensure that you have the verification of identity accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

6. Credit card to pay the lodgement fee. Credit card to pay the lodgement fee

To submit your application, you will need a credit card to pay the fee.

Letters of Administration without the Will

If you are making an application for letters of administration without the Will, the minimum documentation you will need to complete the CourtSA Grant Application form is:

1. Administrator’s oath

For help on which oath to prepare, view hereIf after reading the page about administrator’s oaths you still do not know which one you need you must seek legal advice from a solicitor. Registry staff cannot provide legal advice.

You will need to upload a signed and duly witnessed oath. Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019, Rule 30 and notes 1-6 to Form 22 for guidance on the requirements of a duly signed and witnessed oath/affidavit.

Ensure that you have the signed oath accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

2.  Death certificate

The death certificate you provide must be a true and complete copy of the original, AND BOTH SIDES must be scanned and uploaded.

Ensure that you have the death certificate accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

An interim death certificate is acceptable.

If the person died overseas refer to Rule 28. View here for more information.

3. Details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person

You must provide information about all assets and liabilities as at date of death, including those located interstate and if the deceased died domiciled in Australia their assets overseas. Assets include real estate, house contents, money in bank accounts, investments, motor vehicles and other possessions.
Liabilities include legal expenses, tax, mortgages or other debts existing at date of death but not funeral expenses.

Refer to Section 121A Administration and Probate Act 1919, Rule 8, Practice Note 2 of 2018.

4. 100 Points of identification for self-represented litigants. 100 points of identification for self-represented litigants

You must provide the Probate Registry with verification of your identity. This can be completed by an authorised person being one of the following:

i. a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits in the Supreme Court of South Australia; or
ii. a person duly authorised to administer oaths in any State or Territory of Australia; or
iii. a Judicial Registrar, Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, the District Court, the Environment, Resources and Development Court and the Magistrates Court within South Australia.

Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019 for the requisite documents and list of acceptable documents for 100 points of ID.

Ensure that you have the verification of identity accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

5. Credit card to pay the lodgement fee

To submit your application, you will need a credit card to pay the fee.

Reseal of an interstate or foreign Court grant

1. Original grant or a Court certified copy of the grant

See Step 7 for more information about lodging the grant.

It is very important that you do not remove any staples or clips holding the Will (and codicils) together.

When you scan the Will to upload a copy to your grant application DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES. If the staples or clips have already been removed, do not re-staple or clip the Will.  

The scanned copy of the Will (and codicil(s)) must be as one document and not separate pages. For more information about why this is important, view here.

Ensure that you have the Will and any codicil accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

2. Death certificate

The death certificate you provide must be a true and complete copy of the original, AND BOTH SIDES must be scanned and uploaded.

Ensure that you have the death certificate accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format so you can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

An interim death certificate is acceptable.

If the person died overseas refer to Rule 28. View here for more information.

3. Details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased person

You must provide information about all assets and liabilities as at date of death, including those located interstate and if the deceased died domiciled in Australia their assets overseas. Assets include real estate, house contents, money in bank accounts, investments, motor vehicles and other possessions. Liabilities include legal expenses, tax, mortgages or other debts existing at date of death but not funeral expenses.

Refer to Section 121A Administration and Probate Act 1919, Rule 8, Practice Note 2 of 2018.

4. 100 Points of identification for self-represented litigants

You must provide the Probate Registry with verification of your identity. This can be completed by an authorised person being one of the following:

i. a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits in the Supreme Court of South Australia; or
ii. a person duly authorised to administer oaths in any State or Territory of Australia; or
iii. a Judicial Registrar, Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, the District Court, the Environment, Resources and Development Court and the Magistrates Court within South Australia.

Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019 for the requisite documents and list of acceptable documents for 100 points of ID.

Ensure that you have the verification of identity accessible and saved on your computer in PDF format can upload it as you complete the CourtSA Grant Application form.

5. Credit Card to pay the lodgement fee

To submit your application, you will need a credit card to pay the fee.

If you have elected to proceed as a self-represented litigant it is strongly recommended you consider to Practice Note 1 of 2019.

You will need to have registered an account in CourtSA.

  1. Click Login

  1. Enter the E-mail and Password you used when registering for a CourtSA account.
  1. Click Log in.

The CourtSA Grant Application form takes you through a series of questions so that the Court can assess your application.

Be aware that the questions on CourtSA do not cover all possible situations and it may be that when your application is assessed further questions will be raised.

Your answers will be used in Court documents, so make sure you type them exactly as you would like the words to appear in the official documents.

As you fill out the form, you will be provided with information to help you as well as links to further information contained in this website.

You can save the form as a draft if you need to, and finish it when you are ready.

If you don’t know how to answer a question, and you can’t find the answer on the form or on this website, you should get advice from a lawyer. Registry staff cannot provide legal advice.

When you have completed your application make sure that you check your application carefully.  The system will not correct spelling and grammatical mistakes, nor can it automatically tell if an incorrect document has been uploaded.

When that check is completed, simply press “Proceed” to submit the form.

CourtSA will then take you to the payments page.

If you have made a mistake in your lodgement you need to email the Probate Registry as soon as possible to inform of the mistake. Registry Staff will then determine and notify the appropriate course.

– For applications for Probate or Letters of Administration with the Will annexed or Reseal of an Interstate or Foreign Court grant you must lodge the original document (Will (and Codicils) or Grant) –

After lodging your grant application CourtSA will automatically create an Original Will Coversheet. 

  1.  Print the original Will coversheet from the Documents Tab in the case.
  2.  In the space provided on the original Will coversheet provide details of what will be enclosed in the envelope. 
  3.  Stick the printed original Will coversheet on a white A4 envelope.
  4.  Place the original Will (and codicils) marked in accordance with Rule 15(a)  or the Court authenticated grant for reseal in the envelope without folding it along with the Certificate of identity.
  5.  Solicitors and self-represented litigants – Lodge the original Will either in person or by registered post to the Probate Registry at Sir Samuel Way Building, 241-259 Victoria Square Adelaide 5000. 

Your application will not be considered until the original Will/court authenticated grant and certificate of identity (for self-represented litigants) has been lodged.

  • Self-represented litigants must lodge their Certificate of identity with the Registry
  • Self-represented litigants please disregard the information on the coversheet. Refer to Practice Note 1 of 2019 and the information on this website for the correct procedure.
  • The original Will is NOT to be taken apart (staple or clip removed) for the purposes of photocopying or scanning.

Assessment of your application for a grant

  1. Once you have paid the Court fee a file is created and given a ‘PROB’ number. This means the application has been received by the Probate Registry. 
  2. You have lodged the original Will. If you do not lodge the original Will your application for a grant of probate or letters of administration with the Will annexed will not be considered.
  3. The Probate Registry officers’ examine the application to make sure it complies with the relevant rules and legislation.  Receiving a grant is not an automatic process.
  4. If the examining officer has any questions on your application a requisition will be sent to you by email.  If you do not understand what is being asked of you, you need to seek legal advice. Do not call the Court.  Neither Registry staff nor the examining officer can tell you what to write or how to proceed.
  5. Once all requisitions have been answered and the examining officer is satisfied the application complies with all requirement the grant will issue.

Once you receive your grant it will often be necessary to provide a certified copy of the grant to financial or other institutions to prove you are the person authorised by the Court to administer the estate. You can download and print copies of the grant from CourtSA but the financial or other institution must satisfy itself as to the authenticity of the grant.

You will be notified when the grant and Registrar’s Certificates have been issued by email.

The original grant is the electronic document located in CourtSA, which you then download. Paper grants are not issued.

The role of the Probate Registry ends when the grant is issued. The distribution of the assets in the deceased’s estate is the responsibility of the legal personal representative named in the grant.  Registry Staff will not advise you how to administer the estate.