How long does it take to get Probate?

When a loved one has passed away and their relatives or friends comes to see us for the first time, one of the first questions we are asked as lawyers is – how long does it take to get Probate?

What is Probate?

A grant of Probate from the Supreme Court of Queensland is the grant of official approval from the Court that certain requirements have been met in relation to a Will. A grant of Probate provides the executor with the legal authority to carry out the intentions of the deceased as expressed in the Will. In short, the Probate document issued by the court is evidence that the Will is valid and the executor is validly appointed.

A grant of Probate can be revoked at a later date if the Will is proved to be not the deceased’s last Will or if there are any errors found in the application for the grant of probate.

Similarly, where the deceased has died intestate (without a Will) or where the Executors named in the deceased’s last Will are unable or unwilling to act, another party (such as a spouse or close relative or friend) may apply for Letters of Administration.

A grant of Letters of Administration from the Supreme Court has essentially the same effect as Probate in that it allows the person who has applied to the Court to be appointed as Administrator of the Estate of the deceased, much the same as an Executor of an Estate is appointed under a grant of Probate.

How long does it take?

Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in Queensland generally takes a minimum of 8 weeks from the start to finish.

There is a common misconception that obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration can take 9 months, or even some years. However, it is important to note that obtaining a grant of Probate from the Supreme Court is just that – obtaining the grant. It does not mean or include the time taken to actually administer the Estate.

Obtaining the grant of Probate is only just the start of the estate administration process and it is needed for many parts of the estate administration, including to be able to transfer properties, release funds held in the deceased’s bank accounts etc.

The process and timing of obtaining a Grant of Probate or similarly a Grant of Letters of Administration can be broken down to the following 4 steps:

Step 1 – Advertising your Intention to Apply (Minimum 1 Week)

The first step to take to apply for Probate is to draft a Notice of Intention to Apply for a Grant and booking the advertising of the Notice.

The Notice must be published in the Queensland Law Reporter and another newspaper which is either:

  1. A newspaper circulating throughout the state (usually the Courier Mail where the deceased lived in the Brisbane area); or
  2. a newspaper approved for the area of the deceased’s last known residential address.

Bookings for most newspapers, such as the Courier Mail, can be made the day before publication. The cost will vary depending on the number of lines required for the publication, but will generally range from $450.00 – $550.00. For example, the cost for one Executor applying is likely to be a smaller cost than listing the full names of three Executors applying.

The publication of the Notice in the Queensland Law Reporter must be booked earlier, as it is published once a week on Fridays with bookings required in advance by the Monday before publication. Accordingly, the “advertising of your intention to apply” step can take up to a week.

To start the process of obtaining a Grant of Probate as fast as possible it is essential to make the first available publication of the Queensland Law Reporter. The cost of this publication is currently fixed at $161.70. Failure to do so results in a minimum extra week of waiting.

After the advertising of the Notice has been booked, it is also a requirement that the Notice be served on the Public Trustee. This may be done by post, fax or by delivering it to a Public Trustee office in person. The Public Trustee must be served a minimum of 7 days prior to making your application to the Supreme Court. This is so that they have sufficient time to go through their records and ensure that they do not hold a more recent Will for the deceased.

Step 2 – Notice Period (Minimum 2 Weeks)

After the publication of the last (Queensland Law Reporter or newspaper) Probate Notice, it is a required by law that two weeks (14 days) must past before an originating application for a Grant of Probate can be filed in the Supreme Court Registry. The rationale behind the two week Notice period is to allow any interested parties to have the opportunity to object to the application by lodging a caveat over the application for Probate or by giving the Executor notice that they intend to  challenge the Will.

The Probate Application documents are normally prepared and signed during the 2 week Notice Period ready for filing at the earliest opportunity after the Notice period has passed.

Step 3 – Supreme Court Registry Processing (Minimum 4 Weeks)

After filing an originating application to the Supreme Court Registry it generally takes 4 weeks to process the documents and can take up to six weeks depending on how many applications the Registry is processing at that time. The cost of the filing fee is currently $671.40.

The Registrar may ask questions relating to the application as required and issue a requisition (stop) to any application where further information is required to finalise the application. Requisitions lead to further processing time and can delay the obtaining of a Grant.

For this reason, we strongly recommend that you seek a solicitor to prepare and file your application, particularly where you are applying for Letters or Administration, as complications can arise where there is no Will or where the Executors named in the deceased’s last Will are wishing to renounce from their role as Executor.

Step 4 – Perfection of the Grant (Up to One Week)

Once a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been granted (ie approved by the Supreme Court Registrar), the final document (the physical Grant) needs to be “perfected”. This involves the document being checked, printed, signed and sealed.

Upon the Grant being perfected, you or your solicitor will receive notification that the Grant is ready for collection from the Supreme Court Registry. The original Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration should be kept in a safe place and certified copies made to forward to all entities requiring a copy for the calling in of the deceased’s assets.

If you require a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration for a loved one who has passed away, please contact us and we would be happy to assist.

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