Upon the demise of a loved family member or friend, certain people may ask the question ‘are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will?’. Beneficiaries named in Wills are persons who receive some portion of the estate and assets of the deceased person.
A Will-maker nominates beneficiaries in his/her Will, specifies which portion of the estate the entitled person can receive, and makes further provision such as for specific gifts and heirlooms.
In this article, we’ll explore the question ‘are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will?’ by discussing various rights of beneficiaries. But the simple answer to the question of ‘are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will’ is as follows.
Beneficiaries do not automatically get a copy of the Will after the deceased’s death. Moreover, executors (persons responsible for administering the deceased estate) do not have an obligation to provide the beneficiaries or other family members with the copy of a Will. However, beneficiaries can apply or request to view a copy of the Will.
While this can be understood as a simple explanation to the question ‘are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will?’ it is necessary for us to understand the rights of beneficiaries. Before we explore this in detail, another point to note is that executors do not have an obligation to hold a “reading of a Will” either.
Are Beneficiaries Entitled to a Copy of the Will?
As mentioned above, they don’t have any such automatic ‘entitlement.’ However, if they require a copy of the document, they can make an application for the same. Moreover, they can also request the executor to send them a copy. Alternatively, if there are solicitors acting for the executor, they can contact the solicitors for the same.
Notably, there are no time limits as such for making any such requests. However, there are time limits to consider when someone wants to file family provision claims. People may file such claims if they want to contest or challenge the Will.
There are time limits when it comes to challenging or contesting a Will. Mostly, someone requesting a copy of the Will may do so because they want to review the Will, and file a claim against it. Therefore, it is important to make note of time limits after all.
Another relevant question is ‘are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will when testator is still alive?”. This completely depends on the testator. But no person is ‘entitled’ to see the original Will, or the copy of one. It may be possible that the testator’s lawyer or solicitor may require a copy if the circumstances demands this. But largely, nobody has an automatic entitlement to receive a copy as such.
In some situations, the testator may lose their decision-making capacity due to old age. The solicitor will then need to restructure the affairs of the testator. In this instance, the lawyer will definitely require a copy of the original Will.
Rights of Beneficiaries: How to Obtain a Copy of The Will?
It is important to note that while beneficiaries do not have an automatic entitlement to receive a copy, they do have the right to receive one if they have made a request for the same.
This right, among other rights, is mentioned in the Succession Act 2006 (NSW). Given below are some of the other rights under Succession Act 2006. These include the beneficiaries’ rights to be informed about:
- Any delays in estate administration
- Potential Will contests in the future that can affect the beneficiary’s share of the estate
- Any legal proceedings against the deceased
- The general administration of the estate
View the whole list of rights here. Given below are steps that a beneficiary can take if they wish to get a copy of a Will:
- As mentioned above, firstly, he/she must contact the executor or executor’s solicitor and make a request for the same.
- Secondly, if they are in NSW, they can search for the details of the deceased here.
- Lastly, they can contact the Supreme Court probate registry and request a copy from their records. They can either make an application on the probate registry website, or they can call them directly. Click here to access NSW’s probate registry website.
Apart from beneficiaries, there is a list of other eligible person who may receive copies of Will. The list of person entitled to receive a copy according to Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) is as follows:
- Anyone named in the Will
- Person named in any earlier Will whether as beneficiary or otherwise
- Person or guardian of a minor referred in the document
- Spouse or child of deceased
- Parent of the deceased
- Anyone who may have a claim against the estate of the deceased
- Attorney acting as under an enduring power of attorney
- Persons who could have had entitlements from the estate had the deceased died intestate (when person dies without leaving a valid Will behind)
- Any person who was entrusted with the management of the deceased person’s estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 before the Will-maker’s death
Experienced Wills and Estate Planning Solicitors
If you are a beneficiary or an executor of a Will, it is important to get in touch with estate planning solicitors. Were you the domestic partner of the deceased? Or did you depend on the deceased for financial needs? Contact our solicitors if you have any enquiries.
Furthermore, if you wish to draft a legally valid Will, you must speak with professionals like lawyers who can help you with the same. Each state or territory may have a different legal requirement when it comes to Wills. A Will-maker must follow these requirements when including their entire estate in their Will.
It is important to get in touch with our lawyers at JB Solicitors who can help you with all matters in relation to Wills and estate planning. Our experienced team of professionals have years of experience dealing with both simple and complex Wills.
We are well-aware of the legislation around this matter enabling us to provide tailored-advice to one and all. Moreover, at JB Solicitors, we offer fixed-fee services to help our clients understand the legal costs from the get-go.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact our team of experts today. Alternatively, if you have more questions on estate planning like ‘are beneficiaries entitled to receive a copy of the Will’ check our blog page for articles on similar topics.
Get In Touch With Us
Get in touch with your Wills and Estate Planning lawyers today for any enquiries. For more information on beneficiary rights, click here. If you wish to know more about grant of probate, and how a Will becomes a public document or public record, click here.