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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.

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.

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 a person may have to wait some time until they 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, online through CourtSA (after creating an account and conducting a search). Wills lodged after 1980 are kept electronically but those lodge prior to 1980 are not and will require a manual search. The Probate Registry transitioned to the electronic filing service called CourtSA in late 2018.

If unsure whether or not a will has been lodged and granted probate, a person may need to periodically conduct a search.

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 [s 8].

An application to contest a will under the Wills Act 1936 (SA) on the basis of rectification must be made within 6 months of the grant of probate [s 25AA(2)].

Getting a copy of a will  :  Last Revised: Tue Jan 7th 2020
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.