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Index to Intestate Estate Case Papers

Intestate: A person who dies without leaving a will. This is an ongoing Volunteer project. The index currently covers the years 1821-1911.

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Intestate: A person who dies without leaving a will

About the Index | Accessing the records | About Intestate | Feedback

About the Index

This index has been compiled from the record series:

NRS 13538, Curator of Intestate Estate: Case Papers, 1821-1913,
The Case Papers provide details such as: money owed by the deceased, creditors and petitions from the Curator of Intestates to the Supreme Court relating to the administration of the estate, affidavits of death newspaper cuttings and in certain cases personal correspondence. Files may also provide information that relates to the nature and locality of death or the occupation of the deceased. The index records the name of deceased, alias (if any), district, date of order, file number and item number.

There is a contemporary index to the Intestate Case Papers available on microfilm reels 40-41 in our reading room.

What has been indexed so far?

This is a very large series of records comprising 959 boxes. So far, the following 858 boxes [6/3481-3910] (excludes boxes of miscellaneous papers) and [10/27478-27905] up to 1911 have been indexed.

Accessing the records

The Intestate Case Papers are held at the Western Sydney Records Centre.

Are copies available from the index?

Copy ServiceThere is a photocopy service available from this Index. You will see an 'Add to Cart' tickbox option on the search results page(s).

Copies can also be ordered at the Western Sydney Records Centre after viewing the records

About Intestate

An Act for the Better Preservation and Management of the Estates of Deceased Persons in Certain Cases, 1847 (11 Vic. Act no.24) created the position of Curator of Intestate Estates responsible for the collection, management and administration of intestate estates. However, because of the large number of duties the Registrar had to perform, there was inevitable inefficiency. On 1 March 1856 a Rule of Court appointed the prothonotary, formerly termed the Registrar, as Curator of Intestate Estates.

Responsibilities of the Curator

Under the Wills, Probate and Administration Act, 1898 [Act No 13, 1898], the property of a deceased person was vested in the Chief Justice until probate, administration or an order to collect was granted. The Curator of Intestate Estates could assume the responsibility of administering an estate if:

  • the deceased was intestate and had no direct heirs,
  • the executors named renounced probate,
  • there was no application for probate within three months of death,
  • an estate was likely to waste and executors or next of kin could not be found,
  • was outside the jurisdiction or applied to the Curator to manage the estate,
  • delay in administering would cause expense or where the testator had appointed the Curator to act.

The Curator in these cases had all the rights of an executor or relative of the deceased appointed in the will.

Other duties of the Curator

The Curator could also be called upon to administer, manage and discharge the debts and liabilities of any person presumed dead, intestate or if their will could not be located. In this case the Curator was required to await a court order prior to distribution of the estate. This followed newspaper advertisements in the vicinity of the person's residence and, if relevant, in the country where the person's next of kin may live. Real estate and other property could be sold after the expiry of a reasonable time had elapsed for the beneficiaries to be located, and money was to be invested in the Suitors' Fund or as directed by the Colonial Treasurer. The Curator and his staff were not personally liable for any decisions and actions taken in conjunction with administering estates. The Supreme Court could rule for the return of money subsequently claimed by rightful beneficiaries.

Creation of the Public Trustee

The Public Trustee Act, 1913 (Act No 19, 1913) abolished the office of Curator of Intestate Estates and established the office of the Public Trustee. The functions of the Curator were taken over by the Public Trustee from 1 January 1914.


We would appreciate any feedback and suggestions you may have on using the Index.