Wills can be an extremely useful resource for anyone looking for their family history, as they often contain information difficult to find and access elsewhere. You may receive details of the deceased’s assets, occupation, a copy of the death certificate as well as the names and addresses of any children and/or grandchildren.
Things to remember when researching Wills
The deceased person’s estate is usually administered by the executor named in the Will or appointed by the Supreme Court. Generally, probate is only sought when there is a need to prove that the executor has the right to administer the Will. However, this is only the case in approximately 5% -10% of all Wills. If there was no requirement for a probate, then there is no need for any copies of the will to be kept.
Copies of individual Wills may at times be found with lawyers or executors.
Public Curator’s files include Wills when there was no formally recognised Will and were therefore administered by the Public Curator (orders). Therefore, some Wills that did not go to probate may be located with intestacy files.
Where can I find records of any Australian Wills?
Listed below are some of the resources that can help you locate a Will including some of the titles held by the State Library of Queensland.
Queensland State Archives
Index to Wills, 1857-1935
Compiled from original Supreme Court files and may include Wills for people who died outside Queensland. It does not include Public Curator intestacy files.
Equity Index 1857-1895
An online index to the original Supreme Court Equity files that include surname and given name of all people connected with a case including deceased, interstate and overseas residents.
Indexes – Instruments of Renunciation 1915-1983
These records include details of the name, address and occupation of the deceased, date of death (and place if other than the deceased’s address), date of Will, name and address of executor, relationship to the deceased, and date of renunciation of the executor who no longer wished to administer a Will..
Trustees Files Index 1889-1929
This index include trusts that were created under the terms of a Will. Details the records may include information on the deceased’s land ownership, children or other relatives, and employees.
For further information, consult Queensland State Archives Brief Guide 19 Will and Intestacy Records
This is an online index to Queensland Supreme and District Court files from as early as 1992 (Brisbane). The index is updated in real time. Files that commenced before the listed dates in the districts are included only if there has been some activity on the file since the index commencement date. Check the website’s Guide to searching for additional search options for the Brisbane area.
The State Library of Queensland holds:
Queensland intestacies, insolvencies and wills: index to notices in the Queensland Government Gazette 1859-1885 / edited by Mary Geiger and Rosemary Kopittke. [microfiche] (FICHE 929.3943 que)
Queensland intestacies, insolvencies and wills : index to notices in the Queensland Government Gazette 1886-1900 /edited by Jackie Buttress [microfiche] (FICHE 929.3943 que)
Queensland intestacies, insolvencies and wills 1859-1900 [CD-ROM] (QCFS 929.3943 2004)
Queensland intestacy returns index / compiled by Mary Geiger and Rosemary Kopittke. [microfiche] (FICHE 929.3943 GEI) (Years: 1896-1916)
Transmission of real estate by death / compiled by Merle D. Grinly and Margaret A. Belcher. [microfiche] (MFC 929.3943 1995-) (Years: 1878-1940). The name indexes include details of occupation of deceased, spouse, address and date of death.