Deceased estates: what the files can tell you

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. They 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, all ages and financial positions.

Digitised deceased estates

We hold Deceased Estates for the years 1880 to 1958. These files below were digitised as part of the Archives in Your Town program.

You may often find Probate packets for those who have Deceased estate files.

Broken Hill

Peter Maguire was a miner who died in Broken Hill in 1887. His brother James Maguire, also of Broken Hill, signed the affidavit. Peter Maguire did not make a will. Peter Maguire had 20 pounds and his wearing apparel and over 28 pounds in debts.

Adjib Khan was 75 and a pensioner when he died in 1949. He lived with his wife Veronica Khan at 758 Chapple Street. The land was held under Mining Tenement 514A. Adjib Khan had over 283 pounds of assets and 16 pounds of debts. Veronica Khan inherited the whole of her husband’s estate. Veronica Khan was 66 when she died in 1951 and still lived at 758 Chapple Street. She had had over 516 pounds of assets and 37 pounds of debts.

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Peter Maguire

File AF00054815

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Adjib Khan

File AF00166794

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Veronica Khan

File AF00166776


Joseph Teni, a retired farmer in Dubbo died in 1934 aged 65. Joseph Teni had been a farmer at Beni, a small town outside Dubbo. His wife Isabella Teni signed the affidavit.His estate was worth over 1,400 pounds. The death duty payable was just over 17 pounds. After selling the farm they had been living in Dubbo in Darling Street.

Sophie Augusta Maria Massart, a widow living in Dubbo died in 1934 aged 62. Her sons signed the affidavit. Sophie Massart’s estate was worth just over 187 pounds. The estate was made up of a house in Serisier Street Dubbo and its contents.


Thomas Tullock, a pilot in Kiama died in 1888 without leaving a will. Mary Tullock, his wife, signed the affidavit. Thomas Tullock had no real estate. His estate was worth over 128 pounds.

Joseph Weston, a journalist of Kiama, died in 1913. Joseph Weston was the owner of the newspaper the Kiama Independent. Two of his children signed the affidavit. There was disagreement over the value of the business. Joseph Weston’s estate was ultimately valued at nearly 1,700 pounds with 1,110 pounds of real estate in Kiama and 265 pounds of plant and goodwill in the business. There were over 260 pounds of debts. The death duty charged was 19 pounds 10 shillings and 3 pence.

Robert Wesley Kendall, an undertaker of Kiama, died in 1933 aged 63. The affidavit is signed by his widow and son. Robert Kendall’s estate was worth over 1,450 pounds. The majority of the estate was made up of the home on the Pacific Highway in Kiama (660 pounds) and money in the bank (over 550 pounds).

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Thomas Tullock

File AF00057155

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Joseph Weston


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Robert Kendall

NRS-13660-14-1677-Series 4_193278 AF00166587


Henry Palmer, a grocer in Tamworth, died in 1884. His wife Mary Ann Palmer signed the affidavit that his estate was less that 345 pounds. The bulk of the estate was Life assurance money. He did not own land or stock. His debts were few – for bread, goods, meat and medicine and a 10-shilling loan.

Chow Sum, a tobacco farmer of Tamworth, died in 1937 aged 62. The Public Trustee signed the affidavit that his estate was just over 553 pounds with 1,144 pounds of debts. There was a delay in settling the estate as Chow Sum’s wife Mabel Sum was in China when he died. Mabel’s affidavit provides information about where they lived, where they were married and for how long, and how long Chow Sum had been in NSW.

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Henry Palmer

NRS-13340-1-[20-6996]-Z 6079

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Chow Sum

NRS-13340-1-[20-2391]-Pre A 125294

Tweed Heads

William McLean Scholes like many of his contemporaries enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in World War 1. He died and was buried in France. His estate was worth 270 pounds.

Francis Scaling Lowes, a freeholder in Tweed Heads died in 1941 aged 74. Frank Lowes had been an engineer and captain in the steamer service between Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah for many years.He had other business interests and was a well-known member of the community.

Frank Lowes estate was worth over 11,000 pounds including over 9,000 of real estate. He owned the Empire Picture Theatre and Empire Dance Pavilion in Tweed Heads when he died. Further assets and liabilities were located after his estate was settled so the amount of death duty payable was adjusted in 1944 and 1950. Death duty paid was over 600 pounds.

Mary Ellen Cazalar, a widow living in Tweed Heads died in 1952 aged 91. One of her daughters signed the affidavit. Mary Cazalar’s estate was worth over 9,000 pounds. The estate was made up of a house in Boyd Street Tweed Heads and five interest bearing deposits which were the bulk of the estate.

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William McLean Scholes

NRS-13340-1-[20-664]-8 AF00101280

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Frances Scaling Lowes

NRS-13340-1-[20-2886]-A 34360 AF00101279

Wagga Wagga

Eva Jane D’Hudson, a Hotelkeeper in Wagga Wagga, died in 1938 aged 65. One of the executors of her will, Roy Tapscott, signed the affidavit. Eva D’Hudson had owned the hotel since 1920 and was licensee from September 1935. Eva D’Hudson’s estate was worth nearly 9,000 pounds. The majority of the estate was the hotel and land and a property inSydney at Burwood.

Charles Hardy, a contractor in Wagga Wagga died in 1908. Charles Hardy worked as a builder and contractor in the Wagga Wagga area for over 30 years and was said to have built Wagga. Two of his sons signed the affidavit. His estate was worth over 16,000 pounds. The bulk of this was real estate. The death duty payable was 294 pounds.

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Eva Jane D'Hudson

AF00152667 Pre A 128210 [20/2423]

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Charles Hardy


Behind the scenes

Archives behind the scenes - deceased estate files

In this episode, Martyn shows us the treasure trove of information that you can find in deceased estate files

In the index

Over 570,000 deceased estate files are listed.

List of possessions from a deceased estate file From the deceased estate file of Ralph Greig. State Archives Collection AF00190047  INX-15-155710

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

Screenshot of the front page of a deceased estate file

Deceased estate files

This webinar examines deceased estate files in the State Archives Collection and the techniques you can use to find them

Page from the Probate file of George Barr

Probate packets & wills guide

These records include the last will & testament. A grant of probate is the authority given by the Supreme Court of NSW to the executor(s) to deal with a deceased person's estate