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Australian Wills & Estates

How to Locate Australian Wills & Probate Records


Old stone ruins of the historic Kanyaka Homestead built in the 1850's in the lower Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Peter Walton Photography/Getty Images
Wills and probate records can often be a gold mine when researching Australian ancestors. Wills generally list surviving heirs by name, providing confirmation of family relationships. Probate records which document the handling of the estate through the court, whether the deceased died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will), may help identify where family members were living at the time, including those residing in other Australian states, or even back in Great Britain. For more information on the valuable genealogical clues estate records can provide, see Probing into Probate Records.

There is no central archive of wills in Australia. Instead, wills and probate registers are maintained by each Australian state, generally through the probate registry or probate office of the Supreme Court. Some states have transferred their early wills and probates, or provided copies, to the State Archives or Public Record Office. Many Australian probate records have also been filmed by the Family History Library, but some of these films are not permitted to be circulated to Family History Centers.

How to Locate Australian Wills & Probate Records

Records begin in 1911
Indexes to wills and probate records in the Australian Capital Territory have not been published, and the records are not available online.

ACT Supreme Court Registry
4 Knowles Place
Canberra ACT 2601

Records begin in 1800
The Supreme Court NSW Probate Division has published an index to probates granted in NSW between 1800 and 1985, available in the NSW State Records Authority reading room and many major libraries (not available online). An index to early wills not included in the regular probate series is available online.

Probate packets and wills from 1817 through 1965 have been transferred from the Supreme Court to the State Records Authority of New South Wales. Many of these probate packets are indexed online in Archives Investigator, including Series 1 (1817–1873), Series 2 (1873–1876), Series 3 (1876–c.1890) and a portion of Series 4 (1928–1954). Select "Simple Search" and then type in the name of your ancestor (or even just a surname), plus the term "death" to find indexed wills and probates, including the information you'll need to retrieve a copy of the full probate packet. Learn more in the NSW Archvies briefs Probate Packets and Deceased Estate Files, 1880–1958.

State Records
Western Sydney Records Centre
143 O'Connell Street
Kingswood NSW 2747

Access to wills and probate records from 1966 to the present require application to the Probate Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Supreme Court of New South Wales
Probate Division
G.P.O. Box 3
Sydney NSW 2000

Records begin in 1911
Indexes to Northern Territory wills and probates have been created and published on microfiche. The Family History Library has a partial set, but they are not open for circulation to Family History Centers (viewable in Salt Lake City only). Alternatively, send a SASE to the Northern Territory Registrar of Probates with details on the decendant, and they will send a return letter regarding availability of the record and fees to obtain a copy.

Registrar of Probates
Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
Law Courts Building
Mitchell Street
Darwin, Northern Territory 0800

Records begin in 1857
Queensland has more will and probate records online than any other Australian state or territory, courtesy of the Queensland State Archives. Detailed information is available in their Brief Guide 19: Will & Intestacy Records.

  • Index to Wills, 1857-1935 - An online index to wills compiled from original Supreme Court files from all districts, including a few wills for people who died outside Queensland.

  • Equity Index 1857-1895 - An online index to original Supreme Court Equity files that include the names of all people connected with a case.

  • Instruments of Renunciation 1915-1983 - Lodged by executors who were no longer willing to administer a will, these records include a great deal of details on the deceased and estate.

  • Trustees Files Index 1889-1929 - Files related to trusts set up under the terms of a will.

Queensland State Archives
435 Compton Road, Runcorn
Brisbane, Queensland 4113

More recent probates in Queensland are administered by and available through Queensland district court registrars. An index to the most recent probates from all districts can be searched online.

Queensland eCourts Party Search – An online index to Queensland Supreme and District Court files from as early as 1992 (Brisbane) to the present.

Supreme Court of Queensland, Southern District
George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000

Supreme Court of Queensland, Central District
East Street
Rockhampton, Queensland 4700

Supreme Court of Queensland, Northern District
Walker Street
Townsville, Queensland 4810

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