Beneficiaries mentioned in a Will may have difficulty getting a copy of a Will. This is because they lack the methods of doing so. Finding out what a Will states is a natural concern for many beneficiaries. Additionally, they have no awareness of the Will’s content unless they have seen a copy or are the executor.
An executor is a person who manages a deceased person’s final Will and testament. The executor’s principal responsibility is to follow the deceased’s instructions for managing his or her affairs and wishes. The executor is appointed by the testator of the Will or by a court.
The testator is the person who wrote the Will. When a person dies, their loved ones would want a copy of their Will. Getting a copy of a Will allows family members and other possible beneficiaries to see the estate distribution. This can help them decide if they need to contest the Will or file a family provision claim.
Who Is Eligible To Get A Copy Of A Will?
Any individual can apply to the Supreme Court of New South Wales (NSW) in getting a copy of a Will. However, the copy must be admitted to probate. The accompanying fees must be also provided by the individual according to the Probate and Administration Act 1898.
Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 requires any person in possession of the Will to provide copies to the following:
- Persons listed or mentioned in the Will, whether or not as a beneficiary;
- Persons mentioned or alluded to as a beneficiary of the deceased individual in an earlier Will;
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse, de facto partner (whether of the same or opposite sex), or child;
- A deceased person’s parent or guardian;
- A person entitled to a portion of the deceased individual’s estate if he or she had died intestate;
- Parents or guardians of a minor mentioned in the Will or;
- Parents entitled to a part of the testator’s inheritance if he died intestate;
- A person (including a creditor) who has or may have a legal or equitable claim against the deceased person’s estate;
- A person appointed to handle the estate of a deceased person under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 shortly before the deceased person’s death;
- An attorney appointed by the deceased individual under an everlasting power of attorney;
- A person who falls under one of the NSW succession regulations’ defined categories.
It should be noted that the process of getting a copy of a Will will incur expenses that will be paid by you. Additionally, if you’re an eligible individual or have power of attorney, you won’t be able to see the Will of someone who is still alive.
The Process Of Obtaining A Copy Of A Will
In Australia, the probate of a Will is a legal process in which the Supreme Court confirms that:
- There has been a death (the deceased);
- A legitimate Will was left by the dead;
- The executor(s) specified in the Will are in charge of administering and finalising the estate of the deceased.
The Will becomes public information if it is granted probate. This way, it can become a public record. Because this process can take months, a person may have to wait before getting a copy of a Will. Members of the public can acquire a copy of any Will at the probate registry.
Wills made after 1980 are kept electronically. While those filed before 1980 are not because they need a thorough search. People who are unsure whether or not a Will has been filed and granted probate should conduct regular searches. Beneficiaries can take the following steps in getting a copy of a Will:
- Request a copy of the Will from the executor or anybody else you believe may have it.
- Request a copy of the Will from the executor’s solicitors.
- To see if the Court has a copy of the Will on file, contact the NSW Supreme Court probate registry.
No known location of the executor
Getting a copy of a Will can be even more difficult if you can’t locate the executor. If you don’t know who the executor is or which solicitors they’re working with. Keep an eye on the local papers in the area where the deceased individual lived.
The executor has died
A newspaper may publish a death notice or a legal notice. Included here is the executor or solicitor’s contact information. An executor can die after the grant of probate is issued. If this happens, the executor of the deceased executor’s estate shall assume the duty of executor.
If the executor dies without a legal Will or if no executor is available to act, another person with a financial interest in the estate must apply for Letters of Administration. This person will then administer the estate.
Lodging a caveat
Some situations may require a caveat on a grant or a reseal of probate. A caveat informs people that you have an interest in the estate before giving a grant of probate. Before you consider lodging a caveat, seek legal advice from a solicitor.
Obtaining A Copy OF A Will With Legal Advice
If a person needs a copy of a deceased person’s Will, he/she should do so as soon as possible. This is because there are time constraints for a person left out of a Will. When instances like this arise, you should seek the assistance of a solicitor to obtain a copy of a Will.
Reach out to JB Solicitors today