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Step 2: Locating the Will (if there is one)

Locating the Will is essential to progressing with the deceased estate. If there is no Will, then your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy.

If there is a Will

A Will is a legal document that states how the deceased person's assets are to be distributed after their death. You’ll need to find the last known signed and witnessed version of the Will. If you can’t find a Will at the deceased’s home, it’s a good idea to ask their solicitor, bank, or financial advisor if they have it.

The Executor of the Will is responsible for distributing the deceased's assets to the people named in the Will. A will usually names one or more executors who will be responsible for dealing with the administration of the deceased’s estate. For more information about the role of executors, see Step 6: The Estate and important considerations

The most important document in terms of finalising estates is a grant of probate which is an order of the court stating that a particular Will is valid and that the estate entitlements are governed by it.

If there is no Will

If the person hasn’t left a Will, they’re said to have died ‘intestate’. This means the estate is then shared under a formula set by law. In these cases the law decides who the beneficiaries of the estate are and how the estate is to be divided. You can refer to your local State Public trustee for more information, and to determine what your next steps should be.

Safety Deposit Box

Should you require access to a safety deposit box to get the Will, you will need to present at least one of the proof of death requirements for access.

 

Things to consider:

Be aware that there may be multiple Wills or the Will may be invalid for failure to comply with the legal formalities.