Being an executor

Taking control of the estate

By law, you first must go to the Public Trustee’s office to check if there is a will, even if you know they do not have one.

You will be asked to swear an oath that you have checked.

Getting permission from the court

To be able to legally take control of an estate, you need to get permission from the Supreme Court.

This is known as a grant of representation.

The court can give one of the following:

  • probate - when a will exists
  • letters of administration - when no will exists
  • letters of administration with will annexed - when the named executor declines.

When there is a will: grant of probate

You will need a grant of probate when either:

  • you have been named as the executor in the will
  • or more than one executor has been named in the will.

How to apply

You can apply for a grant of probate by either:

  • applying yourself - for more information, read about wills and probate on the Supreme Court website.
  • or asking a lawyer to apply on your behalf.

When no will exists: letters of administration

If there is no will and no executor appointed, you will need to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to be the administrator.

Under the law, the court can give permission to:

  • the husband or wife or de facto partner
  • one or more of the next of kin, including parents, children, or brothers and sisters
  • another person the court sees fit.

How to apply

You can apply for letters of administration by either:

  • applying yourself - for more information, read about wills and probate on the Supreme Court website.
  • or asking a lawyer to apply on your behalf.

Print all pages in this section


Last updated: 21 May 2015

Give feedback about this page.

Share this page:

URL copied!