Who is entitled to see the will of a deceased person?

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)

–  A person named or referred to in an earlier will as a beneficiary of the deceased person,

– The surviving spouse or de facto partner

–  A parent or guardian of the deceased person,

–  Any person who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the deceased person if the deceased person had died intestate,

– Any parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the testator if the testator had died intestate,

–  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 person committed with the management of the deceased person‘s estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 immediately before the death 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 info@masperolegal.com.au to ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out the way they wanted!

By Jeremy Maspero – Lawyer and Partner at Maspero Legal

 

 

2017-11-17T02:00:05+00:00 November 17th, 2017|Tags: , , |0 Comments