When a loved one passes away there are often many people who suddenly appear out of the woodwork wanting to see a copy of the will. We often come across clients who encounter long lost relatives and people they never knew existed turning up and demanding to see the will – which is a very emotional and stressful experience. So who exactly is entitled to see a will in New South Wales of a deceased person?
Up until recently, only Executors and personal representatives to an estate (a will) were able to request a copy of it/see it and even Beneficiaries were not required to be given a copy or to see it. This lead to not only a lot of tension amongst family members but also delay in the proper administering of a person’s estate.
To avoid these tensions and delays, changes under the Succession Act of New South Wales 2006 have significantly broadened the categories of people who are entitled to see or have a copy of a will of a deceased person.
Any costs associated with producing or supplying a copy of a will may be passed onto the person requesting it and is not allowed to be done for a profit – even if the Producer is a Lawyer or an Accountant. In our experience of administering hundreds of wills over almost thirty years, paying anymore than $50 to inspect a will or have a copy made is unreasonable.
Any costs associated with court proceedings can be awarded against the Executor or person in control of the will.
People entitled to inspect the will of a deceased person
– A person named or referred to in the will (whether as a beneficiary or not)
– The surviving spouse or de facto partner
– A parent or guardian of the deceased person,
– any person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law or in equity against the estate of the deceased person,
– any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person,
– Any other person a Court may deem appropriate
If you fall into any of the above categories and the Executor or person in charge of the will refuses to give you a copy of let you inspect it, you can launch court proceedings demanding to see or have a copy. Any costs associated with court proceedings can be awarded against the Executor or person in control of the will. Our advice would be before you launch court proceedings to send a letter of demand.
Need assistance with a will or need help in obtaining the will of a loved one?
Contact us today on 02 8052 3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out the way they wanted!
By Jeremy Maspero – Lawyer and Partner at Maspero Legal