We hold records on the administration of probate from 1844.

We also hold records on the administration of succession duties - also known as death duties - from 1875.

Access conditions

Records created by courts, such as probate files, are typically restricted from general public access for 100 years to 31 December from the last year noted in the record. For access to probate records from within the last 100 years you will need to contact CourtsSA. Records from 1980 can be accessed online via CourtsSA (requires a login) and records pre 1980 require a request to CourtsSA. 

Otherwise, records containing financial information are typically open for general public access after 60 years to 31 December from the last year noted in the record.

Indexes and digitised records

Succession duty files 1875-1935

Succession duty 'Old Act' and 'New Act' files - Commissioner of Inland Revenue and successors, 1875-1935 (GRG 84/9)

This index covers 1876 to 1893 and is arranged alphabetically by the person's surname.

GRG 84/10 - Index to succession duty 'Old Act' files, 1876 - 1893   A - H

GRG 84/10 - Index to succession duty 'Old Act' files, 1876 - 1893   I - M

GRG 84/10 - Index to succession duty 'Old Act' files, 1876 - 1893   N - T

GRG 84/10 - Index to succession duty 'Old Act' files, 1876 - 1893   U - Z

A further index of files dated after 1893 is available in the Research Centre.

Probate files (wills), from 1844

Probate files (wills) - Testamentary Causes Jurisdiction, Supreme Court of South Australia, from 1844 (GRS 1334)

These files may contain: wills, oath of administrator, bonds, letters of administration, orders, certificates, petitions, affidavits and correspondence relating to the process of granting probate.

Records for 1844 to 1891 can be identified by searching our catalogue ArchivesSearch or browse the Index to GRS 1334/1 - Probate files (wills), 1844-1891

Further online indexes to probate files (wills) are being developed. Alternatively hard copy indexes can be ordered and viewed in our Research Centre - see GRS 13865 (1844 to 1906) or GRS 16537 (1906 to 1994). Note that probate files (wills) themselves from within the last 100 years must be accessed through CourtsSA

Most letters of administration and wills were transcribed into Probate books. Most of the legal content of probate cases can be found in the digitised copies of these books (1844 to 1916).

Probate record books from 1844 to 1892

These books contain either handwritten copies of probate and an examined and certified correct probate copy of the related will or letters of administration (where a person has died intestate).

Digitised records and a searchable index available on FamilySearch - Probate record books, from 1844 to 1892 (GRS 16377)

Probate and administration books from 1892 to 1916

These probate and administration books are arranged in numerical order and contain the documents of grants of representation, letters of administration and a copy of the will.

Digitised records and a searchable index available on FamilySearch - Probate and administration books, from 1892 to 1916 (GRS 11585)

Key facts

The Probate Registry is responsible for proving wills and the granting of administration in intestate estates.

The State Taxation Department, now Revenue SA, administered succession duties.

  • Succession duty was levied under South Australian law since 1876.
  • From 1 January 1980 no succession duty is payable in South Australia on any property passing to a beneficiary from a deceased estate.
  • The Succession Duties Act 1929 was repealed in 2013.

Succession duty was a form of death duty paid to the government following an assessment of the value of the deceased person's estate.

Duties were not paid on property:

  • passing from spouse to spouse
  • where the value of the estate was less than fifty pounds
  • where the duty to be paid was less than twenty pounds
  • for objects bequeathed to museums, universities or schools.