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Getting a copy of a Will

A common problem for people can be finding out what a will says. Unless they have seen a copy of the will or are the executor they will not have any knowledge about the will’s contents.

Can I ask the solicitor who prepared the will if I am included as a beneficiary?

Even when a person is named as a beneficiary under a will, the solicitor who prepared the will is under no obligation to confirm whether they have been included in the testator’s will. In the process of administering the estate the executor will notify the beneficiaries, but this does not have to happen until after the will has been granted probate by the court.

When and how can I get a copy of a will?

The will is lodged with the court on an application for probate. Once a grant of probate has been made, it becomes a matter of public record. A will lodged with the court on an application for probate is not a public record unless and until a grant of probate has been made. This process can take months rather than weeks so you may have to wait some time until you can get a copy.

Once probate has been granted, members of the public can obtain a copy of any will that has been lodged with the Probate Registry. Check here for the current fee. Wills lodged after 1980 are computerised but those lodge prior to 1980 are not and will require a manual search.

A request for a copy can be made by visiting the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court personally or else by letter, email or fax (with accompanying payment). Probate staff will require the date of death and the name of the person whose will is being requested. See here for the form that must be completed.

I am not sure whether or not the will I am thinking of contesting has been lodged - how do I find out?

In order to check whether or not a will has been lodged the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court has an index that can be searched by the public. This index is arranged by year and then by surname of the testator. As it can take some time for a will to be lodged you may need to periodically check this index.

Are there any time limits for making an application to contest a will?

An application to contest a will under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972 (SA) must be made within 6 months of a grant of probate.

Getting a copy of a Will  :  Last Revised: Thu Nov 13th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.