After someone dies, family and loved ones will want to see a copy of the Will. This document will tell them whether or not they need to challenge the order of distribution or whether they are receiving any of the assets in the estate.
However, only ‘entitled’ people can see a copy of the Will after someone dies. In this guide, we’ll discuss who is entitled and how to access a copy of the Will.
Who can obtain a copy of the Will after someone dies
Sections 33Z of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) and Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) outline specific people who can obtain a copy of the Will. First and foremost, the estate's administrator, executor, or solicitor can read the Will.
In addition, certain categories of people can receive a copy of the will. While there is no formal reading of a Will, these people can request a copy to read the Will:
- Anyone named in the will, regardless of whether or not they included as a beneficiary
- Anyone who is named or referred to in an earlier Will as a beneficiary in a previous Will
- A parent, guardian, spouse, de facto partner or child of the deceased.
- A parent or guardian of any child under the age of 18 referred to in the Will
- Anyone who would be entitled to a share of the estate if the person had died intestate
- A creditor or person who has or may have an equitable claim against the estate
- Any attorney who held an enduring power of attorney by the deceased
- Any entity that had formal management of the deceased’s affairs
- Any person entitled to apply for a family provision
If the executor holding the Will doesn’t provide a copy of the Will when an eligible person makes a request, they can file a court application asking that person to provide a copy.
When can you request to see a copy?
While there is technically no time limit for when you request to see the copy of a Will of a deceased person, there are limitations when someone can file a family provision claim. A family provision claim is where one party applies to the Court for a portion of the estate.
Typically, you need to submit this application within 12 months after the person passes away. Those eligible to apply for a family provision include a spouse, de facto partner, a child, former wife or husband, a dependant or someone in a close relationship at the time of death.
Can you see a will before a grant of probate?
The process of Probate can take months to finalise, and anyone who is entitled to see a copy of the Will must wait until the process is complete. However, while the application is processed, the executor doesn’t need to inform beneficiaries of the will’s contents.
How to access a copy of the Will
If you fall under one of the categories of an entitled person who can access the Will of the deceased, you can ask the Executor for a copy. If the executor refuses, you can write a formal letter asking for a copy per the relevant section of the legislation.
To get access to the Will of someone who dies, you need to fall under a specific category. Immediately after, the executor or administrator of the estate is the only one who has access. Once they receive probate, they distribute copies of the Will to those eligible.
Having a Will is a crucial part of estate planning, and you can start building yours online today.
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