How long do I have to contest a will?

Quick answer

There are strict time limits for contesting a will. You have between 3–12 months to start a claim, depending on the state you live in.

It’s essential to act quickly when contesting a will. Once assets are distributed, it can be harder to claim. If your time limit has already expired, contact us as soon as possible. Our experienced family provision lawyers can apply for an extension on your behalf. Over the years, we have successfully resolved hundreds of claims outside the time limit.

In depth answer

Every state has specific time limits for contesting a will. While these are strictly applied, you can also request an extension from the Court in several circumstances.

Crucially, you only need to file your claim before the time limit expires. The matter does not need to be resolved within the limit.


When discussing wills, you’ll need to be familiar with a few key terms:

  • Estate: The deceased’s cash, vehicles, real estate, and other assets of value.
  • Beneficiaries: People who receive a benefit (usually money or property) from a deceased’s will. They can be named in the will or contest the will for their inheritance.
  • Executor: The person who gathers the deceased’s assets and distributes them to beneficiaries.
  • Grant of Probate: This legal document confirms the will is valid and authorises the executor to distribute the deceased’s estate according to their will. The ‘date of probate’ is the date the Grant of Probate is issued.

What should I do if I’m outside the time limit?

If you’re outside your state limits, speak to a family provisions lawyer as soon as possible. Most Courts are reluctant to grant extensions unless exceptional circumstances are involved, so you need detailed evidence and a strong understanding of family provisions law to prove your case.

With over 24 years experience, our lawyers have the expertise to secure your time limit extension and ensure you get the inheritance you deserve.

Different laws apply in different states. Please choose your state below so we can show you the most relevant content.

New South Wales

In NSW, you have 12 months from the date of death to begin your claim.


A delayed claim can be accepted if the Court is satisfied that:

  • All parties agree to accept the delayed claim, or
  • There is an acceptable excuse for the delay.

To determine if there is an ‘acceptable excuse’, the Court will consider whether:

  • A grant of probate has already been issued
  • The assets have already been distributed to beneficiaries
  • Allowing the delayed claim would ‘unfairly prejudice’ the other beneficiaries
  • The delay could have been reasonably prevented.

For example, a delay may be acceptable if you were overseas and did not know the deceased had passed away.


In Victoria, you have 6 months from the date of probate to contest a will. Before lodging your claim, you must give written notice to the executor of your intent to contest. You then have 3 months to begin the claim. This period cannot be extended or renewed.


An exception will be granted if it does not:

  • Prejudice the estate, or
  • Harm the beneficiaries.

This means that Victorian Courts will not allow delayed claims after an estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. It is your responsibility to show that the delayed claim will not negatively impact the estate or its beneficiaries.


In Queensland, you must contest the will within 9 months of the date of death. You must also provide the executor with written notice of the dispute within 6 months.


The Court will consider a range of factors before allowing an exception. This includes:

  • The delay length
  • The reason for the delay
  • Whether the estate has already been distributed to beneficiaries
  • Your conduct before the claim.

For example, the Court may allow an exception if you received incorrect or inadequate advice from a legal professional.

South Australia

In South Australia, you must contest a will within 6 months of the Grant of Probate.


Before allowing an exception, the Court will look at:

  • The reason for the delay
  • The length of the delay
  • Whether the delayed claim negatively impacts other beneficiaries.

If another party has made a claim within the time limit, the Court may allow you to join their proceedings.

Importantly, you will not receive an extension if the estate has already been distributed.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, you have 6 months from the Grant of Probate to begin your claim.


The Court can allow a claim outside the time limit if it is ‘just and proper’. They will consider all the circumstances of the case, including:

  • The length of the delay
  • The reason for the delay
  • Whether any negotiations took place before the Grant of Probate was issued
  • Whether the estate has already been distributed
  • The impact of refusing an extension
  • Whether the delayed claim would succeed if allowed.

The Court will also consider whether you have redress against other parties. If there are other people you could claim against, it’s unlikely the Court will grant you an extension.


In Tasmania, you have 3 months from the date of probate to file your claim.


An exception may be granted if doing so does not impact the people affected (or likely to be affected) by the will. This includes:

  • Anyone who has already received part of the estate
  • People named in the will
  • People who would receive part of the estate if the deceased did not leave a will.

The Court will not allow an out-of-time claim if the estate has already been distributed to beneficiaries. If only part of the estate has been distributed, that part cannot be ‘disturbed’ by your claim.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, you have 12 months from the date of probate to contest a will.


The Court can grant a time limit exception as it ‘thinks fit’. This broad power means they can consider any factor related to the case, including:

  • The other beneficiaries
  • The length of the delay
  • Your current financial situation
  • The deceased’s previous will/s.

No delayed claims will be accepted if the entire estate has been distributed.

Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, you must contest a will within 6 months of the date of probate.


There are no limits to the Court’s power to grant an extension of the time limit. They will consider several factors, including:

  • The reason for the delay
  • The legal strength of the delayed claim
  • Whether allowing the claim would unfairly prejudice other parties
  • Whether the estate has been distributed.

Once the estate has been fully distributed, the Court will no longer grant time extensions.

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