Vector Smart Object


Wills and Probate NSW.

What you need to know.

Your Probate lawyer.

A Grant of Probate is a Court Order proving the last Will of your loved one is valid and you have authority to direct the organisations holding your loved one’s assets (banks, nursing homes, land titles office, share registries, etc) to release the assets to your control – as executor.


A Grant of Probate is a Court Order proving the last Will of your loved in is valid and you have authority to direct the holders of your loved one’s assets (banks, nursing homes, land titles office, share registries, etc) to release the assets to your control – as executor.

Probate FAQ

Do I need Probate?

There might be several organisations that ask for a Grant of Probate before releasing assets – but it will take only one organisation to require Probate for you to have to obtain Probate. This is for the organisation to protect themselves that they are doing the right thing in relying on a Court Order confirming you are the executor and the Will is the last valid Will. Take our free online Probate quiz here to find out if you need Probate.

Who applies for Probate?

If you are named as an executor (the only one or one of several), the saying “With great power comes great responsibility” may come to mind. You – and your co-executors together – will be able to sign all things and open all doors to deal with the estate. Including applying for a Grant of Probate. Paying bills. Calling in assets. Distributing the estate. Accounting to beneficiaries. It can be a huge responsibility. A hefty paperwork exercise as well.

If you need to apply for Probate you will need to apply within 6 months of the date of your loved one’s passing.

If the “great responsibility” bit doesn’t appeal to you, you have the chance to pull out as long as you do it before involving yourself in the duties of an executor – that is, you can renounce as an executor. If you are a beneficiary as well, this doesn’t affect your beneficial entitlement.

Why choose Copeland Estates Legal to be your Probate Lawyer?

Copeland Estates Legal provides legal advice and documents prepared by an experienced lawyer who deals exclusively in Estate Planning law and Deceased Estates law. You know, the whole life cycle.  And so you know you are getting the best result and protection for you as executor – and for the ultimate benefit of beneficiaries. Because we take the time to provide you with information and advice so you have a mud map of where we need to go and how we will get there. Distress, miscommunication and confusion have no place when you’re legally responsible for managing your loved one’s deceased estate. Probate law is not simply an additional service or an afterthought for us, it is our raison d’être

Administration and distribution of estate

Not only can we apply for and obtain Probate for you, we can also take care of all of the administration and distribution stages of your loved one’s estate:

  • If there are bank accounts, we can prepare the paperwork and arrange release of monies
  • If there’s property or real estate we can look after the conveyancing and/or transmission of property to executors
  • If there are shares, we can arrange transmission to beneficiaries or sale through a broker
  • If there is superannuation, we can help and guide you through the often voluminous paperwork.
  • Distribution to beneficiaries:
    • Preparing a Distribution  Statement confirming the breakdown of how the estate will be distributed.
    • Accounting of the assets and liabilities of the estate for beneficiaries.
    • Calculating and confirming each beneficiary’s entitlement.
    •  If there’s property we can transmit the property to beneficiaries.

Online and mobile lawyer

Unlike traditional law firms, we look after you from the comfort of your own home. We are online for your convenience. No need to carve out a section of your busy day to drive to a stuffy lawyer’s office and wait for them to get around to seeing you. We use everyday, accessible technology – such as zoom, phone, email – to meet you, get to know you, answer your questions and provide you with the right legal advice and prepare the right legal documents to make sure your loved one’s wishes are carried out.

Are you one of several executors? You don’t live in the same location? Or you don’t live in NSW at all?

We make communicating and confirming instructions from you and your co-executors easy. It doesn’t matter where you live, it doesn’t matter how many executors are appointed under the Will and it doesn’t matter how far away you live from each other – whether or not in NSW.  Our online law firm systems make it seamless to meet, discuss, answer questions and make sure everyone is on the same page and part of the process of looking after your loved one’s estate.

How do I apply for Probate?

You need to get a copy of the Will, compile a list of all assets (e.g. accounts/investments/insurances/property/mortality benefits/etc) and book in a free 10 minute chat with a lawyer here or send us an email here or at [email protected] so we can help you and guide you through the process.

We’ll look after you.

Do I have to use the lawyer holding the Will in their safe custody?

The executor gets to decide which lawyer (if any) they use to look after their loved one’s estate. We can assist you with arranging for the original last Will to be released. You don’t have to use the services of any lawyer, even if the Will names a particular lawyer to use.

How long does Probate take?

Generally, from the time we receive your formal instructions to act in your loved one’s estate, we will be ready to have Probate documents for you to sign within about 6 weeks. Once signed, the Court’s turnaround time can be anywhere between 3 to 8 weeks depending on workloads. Rule of thumb, we’ll have obtained a Grant of Probate for you within 3 to 4 months of receiving instructions.

Where can I find my loved one’s last Will?

Looking through your loved one’s paperwork and all the usual places they may have kept it in their home is a good starting point. Some banks have safe custody and it may be helpful to contact them to see if they may have used this service. If you think your loved one may have used NSW Trustee to prepare their Will, it’s a good idea to contact them. Lastly, doing a ring-around of law firms you suspect your loved one may have used or law firms in the local area to where your loved one lived may uncover the Will. We can help you with this.

I can’t find the original Will. What do I do?

We may be able to help you find the original. If it can’t be located and we’ve exhausted all avenues, we can help you apply for a Grant of Probate of a copy of the Will. This is not a straightforward application but we’ll look after you.

Does an executor get paid?

If the executor is also a beneficiary in the Will, the gift from the estate is taken to be their remuneration for services rendered. If an executor is a financial or legal professional and the Will says so, they can charge their usual fees for their services. If neither of the above is true, you can apply to the Court for an executor’s commission or seek the consent of all beneficiaries for a commission from the estate.

Who pays for legal fees to get Probate and look after a deceased estate?

The estate itself. All legal fees and costs are paid or reimbursed from the estate before it is distributed. It is only in rare cases that you would need to pay for any fees from your own pocket.

How do I pay for the funeral?

Funerals are a “priority” cost which banks will pay using monies from your loved one’s account, even when those accounts are frozen. You will need to take the funeral invoice and the Medical Cause of Death Certificate (the informal doctor’s certificate) to your loved one’s bank when requesting they arrange payment. We can help you with this. Quick tip: banks will rarely reimburse you for paying for funeral or estate expenses so it is best to ask for the bank to make direct payment.

How do I pay for the Probate filing fee?

Most banks will release monies to pay for the filing fee in applying for Probate or Letters of Administration. We can assist you in arranging release of funds from your loved one’s bank for this purpose.

How do I sign Probate papers?

If you are local to the Mid North Coast we can meet with you and arrange signature. If not local, we will send documents to you by registered mail with clear guides of where to sign. You will need to arrange for a Justice of the Peace (JP) to witness your signature. JPs in NSW in your local area can be found here:

I have paid bills for the estate, can I get reimbursed?

Yes, estate expenses can get reimbursed once monies are available after Probate is granted. Make sure to hold on to the tax invoices and receipts of payment.