A will is a legal document which explains how a person wants their assets to be distributed after they die.
This section has information about:
Searching for the will
After someone dies, the next of kin must first find out if the deceased had a will. If there is a will, the executor who is named in the will can apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for probate. If the executor
doesn’t want to act they can complete and file a Renunciation of Probate form
with the Supreme Court of NSW. For more information, see When an executor is unwilling or unable to act.
If there is no will, the next of kin can apply for letters of administration.
You can start by searching for the will at the deceased's home. If you cannot locate the will at the deceased's home, you can try making enquiries with:
- their lawyer or any other lawyer the deceased may have used
- local banks (if it is held in safe custody)
- the deceased's accountant or financial advisor
- NSW Trustee & Guardian
- the Supreme Court of NSW
If you make enquiries with local lawyers, you should provide them with the following details:
- the deceased's full name
- their address
- date of death
- information about your relationship to the deceased, for example, that you are the deceased's spouse.
If a lawyer contacts you to tell you they do hold a will for the deceased, they can ask you to provide a copy of the death certificate and your identification to prove your relationship to the deceased.
Sample letter to local lawyers.
NSW Trustee & Guardian (TAG) provides a service where they will safely store a person's will. For more information, see Will Safe. To find out whether TAG holds the deceased's will, you can make a deceased Will enquiry online.
Finding more than one will
If you find more than one will, the most recent will revokes (cancels) any previous will made by the deceased. If you find another written document that makes some changes to a will, this is called a 'codicil'. A codicil is a separate document that adds to a will, and if there is a will and a codicil or codicils these documents will be read together. A codicil should also be signed and witnessed by two other persons.
If you find a document that sets out the deceased person's wishes and you are unsure whether it is a valid will, you should get
This website does not provide information about drafting a will or what a valid will should look like. For more information about wills, go to the
NSW Trustee & Guardian website and