Prior to a person’s death you are not entitled to see a copy of a Will even if you are named as a beneficiary or the executor in the Will.
While the law differs a bit from state to state, it is generally very similar. The following is specific to New South Wales. If the deceased died in a different state, please contact us for more information.
Once the person has died, then you are entitled to inspect or have a copy of the Will if you are:
- A person named or referred to in the Will whether as a beneficiary or not.
- A person named or referred to in an earlier Will as a beneficiary of the deceased.
- The surviving spouse, de-factor spouse (whether the same of opposite sex) or child of the deceased.
- A parent or guardian of the deceased.
- A person who could be entitled to a share of the Estate of the deceased if the deceased had died intestate.
- A parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the Will or who would be entitled to a share of the Estate if the deceased had died intestate.
- A person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law and equity against the Estate of the deceased.
- A person committed with the management of the deceased estate under the Trustee & Guardian Act 2009 immediately before death.
- An attorney made under an enduring power of attorney by the deceased.
- A person belonging to a class of persons described by regulation.
If you fall under one of the above categories, then you can contact the executor of the Estate or the solicitors acting for the Estate and ask for a copy of the Will. The executors or solicitors are entitled to seek any expenses incurred in providing a copy of the Will.
If probate has been sought, then you can contact the Supreme Court and seek a copy of the Will and probate documents from the Court.
The first step is to check the online probate notices of the Court to see if an Intention to Apply for Probate or an Application for Probate has been lodged. The notice will show the details of the executor and, where a solicitor is acting, the estate’s solicitor. You can then contact the executor or the solicitor to seek a copy of the Will.
If you are an eligible person (spouse, de-facto spouse, former spouse, child, grandchild who was wholly or partially dependent or a person with whom the deceased was living in a close personal relationship at the time of death) and you have been left out of the Will or not adequately provided for, then you may be able to contest the Will by filing a family provision claim. Strict time limits apply for family provision claim.
If you believe you have a potential family provision claim, please contact our office on 02 8880 0500 or email email@example.com and we will provide you with obligation free advice.