Using the Probate Registry

One of the roles of the Supreme Court of South Australia is to make orders in relation to the validity of a Will of a deceased person, appoint an executor or an administrator, and the administration of a deceased estate. The Probate Registry is the registry of the court which deals with applications for grants of probate or administration and other related matters. The registry keeps a register of probates and administrations granted by the court.

The Probate Registry manages this work for the court and maintains the records.

There are three types of grants: Probate, Letters of Administration with the Will annexed, and Letters of Administration.

Once the legal process has been completed the public can access these documents and Wills in particular are a useful resource for family historians. As a rule of thumb the older the Will the more informative it will be be as early Wills went to great lengths to clearly identify the beneficiaries.
The Probate Registry at 1 Gouger Street Adelaide (pictured) holds the index of all Wills to 1999 in the public area. Those seeking a Will can extract the references from the index and order the Will which will be available about three days later. You can opt to have the document posted to you. You can access a poor quality fiche version of the index at the State Library and the SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society.

If you require a Will from 2000 you need to approach the counter staff at the Probate Registry with the full name and date of death in the case of a common name. You cannot access a Will until Probate has been granted and the assets distributed.

You cannot view the Will before purchase and so you may purchase a document that is of little help in your research. If you live away from Adelaide application can be made with a SSAE envelope and the reply will advise availability and request fee payment.

Sometimes the index will have PT as the reference which means that the Public Trustee at
25 Franklin Street Adelaide holds the Will. Sometimes a search will reveal the Will is not available. This usually indicates that the document was passed on to another jurisdiction who had an interest (such as another probate registry outside of the state). This occurs rarely and before the days of photocopiers!

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