Missing or lost original will – can a copy be used?

copy of a will, lost will, missing will, will not found, probate application, coat of arms Parkes Courthouse, early Australian courthouses, old Australian courthouses, Colonial Australian courthouses

Coat of Arms on the Parkes Courthouse, NSW

Probate applications require production of the original will.  But what if the original can’t be found? Was the will last known in the deceased’s possession?

Sometimes a copy of an executed will (copy will) of the deceased is available.  Was it the last will? Short of an intestacy, can a copy will be used in an application for probate? 

In certain circumstances a Court will recognise a lost will and admit a copy of it to probate.  Some instances where this has been permitted are mentioned below.

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A lost will – when the original can’t be found.


missing will, misplaced will, lost will, Keeping an original will safe and secure is important, especially where there is the possibility that it maybe tampered with or destroyed by others (see storing a will). A will does not come into effect until the death of the willmaker. As a practical matter, for when it is required, it is  important to let executors, or trusted family or friend of its whereabouts.

Despite best intentions, sometimes an original will cannot be located.  After thorough searches what else can be done? Some additional enquiries which may be made in finding a missing will are discussed here. If a deceased person has not left a valid will or in some circumstances a copy of it acceptable to the court, the intestacy rules apply.  More