Deceased estates guide

Deceased estate files are a financial record of the person’s estate when they die and frequently have very detailed information about a person’s possessions. There are Deceased estate files for people from all walks of life, men and women, of all ages and financial positions.

What are deceased estate files?

The Stamp Duties Office created a deceased estate file for every individual who died leaving property or other assets ('estates'), which were subject to death duties. The files contain the papers, correspondence and other documentation relating to the assessment of death duty by the Stamp Duties Office.

See more about deceased estate files in our catalogue (NRS 13340).

Which dates do the files cover?

We hold Deceased estate files for the years 1880-1959.

Did everyone have to pay death duties?

Not everyone had to pay death duties.

Exemptions could be granted and, if duty was charged, the amount would vary according to the assets involved and the relationship between the deceased and the persons entitled to the estate. For example, under the 1920 Act, widows and children under the age of 21 only had to pay half of the duty in estates under £5000.

How do I access the records?

The files are all available in the Western Sydney Reading Room.

The files are listed in the Deceased Estates index and in our catalogue - more than 577,000 files are listed.

Search by name, locality or occupation.

Search the index

Deceased estates index 1880-1958

Search 570,000+ entries of people who died leaving property or other assets & possessions ('estates') that were subject to death duties

What can I find in the file?

The amount of information in a file can vary considerably. Some files contain an extensive and detailed examination of the deceased person's estate and possessions. Other files may consist of just the cover pages and the amount of duty that had to be paid.

Deceased estate files can include:

  • a summary cover sheet: this includes the name of the deceased, place of residence, testate or intestate, date of death and age, marital status, administrator's name and relationship to the deceased, the final balance of the estate, a list of assets and their value at the date of death, and the full particulars of any debts that need to be extracted from the estate;
  • calculations for statements of assessable duty, schedules and adjustment sheets;
  • correspondence, including letters from solicitors regarding estates, companies or individuals giving statements about shares or other assets of the deceased, bank and salary statements and occasionally letters from beneficiaries;
  • certificates of Valuation of Property which indicate the exact location of land owned by the deceased and what improvements have been made;
  • Statutory Declarations from the executor of the will and from people involved with purchases of land or assets for the deceased;
  • in some cases, a copy of the will (where included this is usually a typescript copy). Original wills are included in the Probate Packet for the estate, unless letters of administration were granted;
  • schedules of furniture and possessions;
  • transcripts from relevant courts, for example, the Supreme Court in Equity;
  • references to Acts that provide precedents for actions;
  • balance sheets of businesses.
Deceased estate file listing contents in the house

Deceased estates: what the files can tell you

We hold over 570,000 deceased estate files for the years 1880 to 1958. The Stamp Duties Office created a file for every person who died leaving property or other assets ('estates'), which were subject to death duties

In the catalogue

Over 577,000 deceased estate files are listed and 1000+ have been digitised through our digitisation-on-demand copy service and can be viewed online.

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