Step 4 – Deceased Estate Administration Guide

How to Find a Will & Funeral Insurance Information

  • Last Updated: August 2023

This step provides instructions on how to find a Will. It explains everything you need to know about locating the valid Will (if one is in place) and finding out about any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral insurance plan or funeral insurances the deceased person may have arranged to help the family and save you money and time. You should check this before you engage a funeral director in case there are restrictions.

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Overview
The Will is an important document as it outlines the deceased person's final wishes. You should ascertain if:
  • a Will is in place and you can locate it;
  • a pre-arranged funeral service, pre-paid funeral insurance plan or funeral insurance is in place
  • you can make an informed decision on how to progress once the body is transported from the home, hospital or nursing home without incurring unnecessary costs; and
  • you can secure other important documents whilst looking for the Will.

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4.1 Check If a Will Is in Place & Locate It

A common dilemma when someone dies unexpectedly is how to find out if someone has a Will and how to get a copy of a Will if the deceased left one behind.

If a loved one dies overseas or even in the country without having left any clue or instructions about their final wishes, another challenge would be how to find out if a Will exists in Australia.

To find out, first of all, you will need to conduct a Will search in earnest. Find out if the deceased person put a Will in place and where this may be located.

One of the most common ways to find a will is to check with the spouse, de facto partner, children aged 18 and over, parents, siblings or the Executor (person nominated in the Will to administer the Deceased Estate).

If you are unsure where the Will may be located, you should check:
  • filing cabinets at the deceased person's home
  • filing cabinets at the deceased person's office
  • a Next of Kin's home
  • a safe in the home
  • a bank deposit box
  • the state/territory's Public Trustee (WA – Will Bank, NSW – Will Safe, VIC – Will Bank)
  • files with an accountant
  • files with a lawyer

If the Will is stored by someone else, you may need to use the copy of the Will to prove the death until you receive the Death Certificate (see Step 8 – How To Get a Death Certificate) allowing you to obtain the original Will.

4.2 What If There Are Multiple Wills

There may be instances where multiple Wills or multiple versions of a Will are found. It will be crucial to determine which of the Wills is valid and to be used for the Estate administration process.

If you are unsure which of the multiple Wills is valid, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from one of our carefully selected Trusted Partners near you. Their details are listed below.

4.3 What If There Is No Will

What happens if you can't find a will?

If you have determined that no Will is in place and this is confirmed by family members, then you should still check if any pre-arranged funeral, pre-paid funeral or funeral insurance plans are in place as outlined below.

Note: Where no Will is in place, it is said to be an intestate Estate and will be administered according to the legislation and rules in the relevant state/territory.

4.4 Check for Pre-Arranged Funeral Provisions

4.4.1 Overview
4.4.2 If a Will Is in Place
4.4.3 If No Will Is in Place

4.4.1 Overview

When you reach this step and don't have the details of the provider of pre-arranged or pre-paid funeral services or funeral insurance plans of the deceased, you can reach out to some commonly known providers in Australia, namely:
  • AIA Funeral Insurance
  • American Express
  • ANZ
  • Apia
  • Real Insurance
  • Choosi
  • Australian Seniors
  • Insuranceline
  • Zurich

Many funeral directors also offer such arrangements.

4.4.2 If a Will Is in Place

After locating the Will, you will be able to search for references to any pre-arranged funeral service, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance and with which provider.
It will be worthwhile to also check who the Executor nominated in the Will is for the next Step 5 – The Role of Executor of a Will or Administrator of Estate and for the Executor to hold on to the Will.

The deceased person may have drafted a Will a while ago and as time went on, changes were required to amend certain clauses or entire sections of the Will. This can either be achieved by drafting a new Will completely or making a codicil, which is a supplementary document to the Will. If a codicil is in place, the Will and the codicil(s) will need to be provided.

4.4.3 If No Will Is in Place

If no Will was found and the Next of Kin or family confirms that no Will is in place, look for documents of a pre-arranged funeral service, pre-paid funeral plan or from funeral insurance providers, such as policy documents, letters, invoices or business cards.

4.5 Contact the Funeral Insurance Provider or Funeral Director

If you're unsure about how to claim funeral insurance, but you have successfully identified the funeral insurance provider or funeral director, contact them to inform them of the death and check what services are covered, especially the transportation of the body at this point in time.

Also, check which provider you can choose from if specified or what restrictions and limits you need to be aware of when you work through Step 6 – Transporting a Dead Body in Australia.

4.6 Secure Other Documents

As you are looking for the Will and pre-arranged funeral service, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance documents, we recommend that you take all other relevant documents that may be important for the Deceased Estate administration into your custody if you will be the likely Executor or Administrator. Download our Important Documents Checklist to find out about the most commonly used documents you will need.


Read Further

You are currently on Step 4 – How to Find a Will & Funeral Insurance Information. Other steps of interest may be:

> Step 7 – How To Organise a Funeral in Australia > Step 13 – Who Is a Beneficiary of Deceased Estate (Testate & Intestate Estate) > Step 25 – Claiming Life Insurance & Other Benefits

Complete Step

Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself

If you have decided to complete this Step yourself, some actions and decisions may be to:

  1. Find out if a Will is in place and locate it (see Step 4.1 above);
  2. Where multiple Wills can be found, determine which Will is the valid Will (see Step 4.2 above);
  3. Check the Will or other documents where you could not find a Will about any pre-arranged funeral service, pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurances (see Step 4.4 above);
  4. Contact the insurance or funeral provider about the arrangement and request if the body transport is included based on your situation (see Step 4.5 above);
  5. Prepare the transportation of the deceased person's body as outlined in Step 6 – Transporting a Dead Body in Australia; and
  6. Secure other important documents that you have found whilst looking for the Will (see Step 4.6 above).

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Information

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Legislation

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Cost & Effort

Reading: 15 mins
Preparing: 30 mins
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 1:45-2:45 hrs
Cost: $0

Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.

Instructions

To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.

Glossary

To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.

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Forms

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Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.

Checklists & Tools

Download Australia's most used Important Documents Checklist to find out about the most commonly used documents you will need.
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Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Legislation & Rules

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Other legislation and rules not listed here may apply to your specific circumstances.


Guidance & Support

Executor Checklists & Tools

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Don't forget important tasks with Australia's most used Executor Handbook, Checklists and Tools. We recommend the Important Documents Checklist to find out about the most commonly used documents you will need.
Download Here

Trusted Support

Have you encountered a challenge needing professional support, or are you unsure about how to proceed? Find out about our support options and personal guidance to get you back on your way with confidence.

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logo of simplyestate australia's number one administration of a Deceased Estate portal for executors and administrators to administer an Estate in Perth WA Western Australia Sydney NSW New South Wales Melbourne VIC Victoria Brisbane QLD Queensland

Executor & Administrator Support NSW

We can help with:
  • discussing this step in detail
  • assessing your approach and best way forward
  • engaging an Estate & Probate Lawyer

Review our services and book a free phone appointment.

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Trusted Partner apply for grant of probate or letters of administration with support from Marsdens Law Group in Sydney Camden Campbelltown Leppington Liverpool New South Wales NSW

Estate & Probate Lawyer NSW

Our trusted partner can help with:
  • establishing validity of a Will
  • determining the Administrator where no Will is in place
  • administering the Estate end-to-end
Request an obligation free phone call to discuss your situation. Find Out More
logo of simplyestate australia's number one administration of a Deceased Estate portal for executors and administrators to administer an Estate in Perth WA Western Australia Sydney NSW New South Wales Melbourne VIC Victoria Brisbane QLD Queensland

Executor & Administrator Support VIC

We can help with:
  • discussing this step in detail
  • assessing your approach and best way forward
  • engaging an Estate & Probate Lawyer

Review our services and book a free phone appointment.

Find Out More
Trusted Partner apply for grant of probate or letters of administration with support from McNab McNab & Starke Lawyers in Melbourne Essendon Sunbury VIC

Estate & Probate Lawyer VIC

Our trusted partner can help with:
  • establishing validity of a Will
  • determining the Administrator where no Will is in place
  • administering the Estate end-to-end

Request an obligation free phone call to discuss your situation.

Find Out More
logo of simplyestate australia's number one administration of a Deceased Estate portal for executors and administrators to administer an Estate in Perth WA Western Australia Sydney NSW New South Wales Melbourne VIC Victoria Brisbane QLD Queensland

Executor & Administrator Support QLD

We can help with:
  • discussing this step in detail
  • assessing your approach and best way forward
  • engaging an Estate & Probate Lawyer

Review our services and book a free phone appointment.

Find Out More
Trusted Partner apply for grant of probate or letters of administration with support from The Estate Lawyers in Brisbane Gold Coast QLD

Estate & Probate Lawyer QLD

Our trusted partner can help with:
  • establishing validity of a Will
  • determining the Administrator where no Will is in place
  • administering the Estate end-to-end

Request an obligation free phone call to discuss your situation.

Find Out More