A lot of people may search the internet to check how to find a Will of a deceased person online. But first, we should talk about how a Will can appear online.
Wills that are found online are those to which the Supreme Court has granted probate. Probate is the legal validation of a Will and it enables Wills to become a public record online. Most of the time, people require probate for:
- Banks and land registries like the NSW Land Registry, so they can release the deceased’s finances and property.
- Beneficiaries who want to contest or challenge a Will. A beneficiary is a person named in the Will who will receive portion of deceased estate.
- People who may have a claim against the deceased estate after the death of testator
The procedure determines who has the legal right to manage the deceased estate. This also places the interests of the deceased at the centre of all decisions made. Executors are the people responsible for distributing these assets and property to beneficiaries once the Will went through probate.While administrators are the people who take charge of the assets of someone who died without a Will (dying intestate).
The court is responsible for appointing the administrator so the administrator has to follow rules and laws that govern intestacy. Read on to know more about how to find a Will of a deceased person online.
Who Is Qualified to Look for a Will?
Before we talk about how to find a Will of a deceased person online, we should know the people who are eligible to look for a Will. It’s difficult for one to locate a Will if he/she is not the executor or an administrator of a Will. Although, as stated in Section 54 of the Succession Act (2006), people can now see a Will if they are:
- Named or referred to in the Will as a beneficiary or not
- Named or referred to in an earlier version of a Will as a beneficiary
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- A parent or guardian of the one who died
- Entitled to a share of the deceased person’s estate if they died intestate (dying without a Will)
- A parent or guardian of a minor in the Will who would be entitled to a share of the estate if someone died intestate
- A creditor (someone that the testator owed money to) who may have a claim against the deceased’s estate
- A person committed to the management of the deceased’s estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009, see here.
- Any person with an enduring power of attorney named in the Will. A person with an enduring power of attorney can make financial and legal decisions for the Will-maker. This is the case if the Will-maker has mental or physical disabilities that prevent him/her from managing, changing, and/or updating his/her Will.
- Any person belonging to a class of persons prescribed by the regulations
How To Find a Will of a Deceased Online in NSW
We have now discussed the people who are eligible to look for a Will. Some may now ask themselves “how to find a Will of a deceased person online in NSW?”. In New South Wales, the administration of decedents’ estates falls under the exclusive authority of the Supreme Court NSW, check the website here.
In accordance with the Supreme Court Rules of 1970, the Probate Registry section of the Court evaluates grant petitions and maintains an online register of all grants that the court issued. The Probate Registry awards a number of different grants, including:
- Grants of Probate (in which the designated executor requests to validate the Will);
- Grants of Letters of Administration (where someone other than the nominated executor requests for the Will’s validation); and
- Letters of Administration on Intestacy are issued (where there is no valid Will and a suitable person applies to administrate the intestate estate).
How To Find a Will of a Deceased Person Online: Publishing the Notice Online
Executors and administrators are responsible for checking the Probate Registry for any duplicate or competing notices. They can then register for an account with the Supreme Court Probate Registry online and keep a record of the produced court case number.
This case number is present in subsequent court documents. According to the Probate and Administration Act 1898, executors and administrators have to publish the online notice 14 days before an application for a grant of probate. The following may happen after publishing the online notice.
- The eligible people who can see the Will (such as person named in the Will) may then have the chance to contest or challenge the Will.
- Beneficiaries or heirs of the Will may also file a family provision claim against the person’s estate under the Succession Act 2006.
- Creditors may file a claim against the estate
Details in the Online Public Notice
Executors and administrators must also ensure that all of the details and records are accurate in the online public notice. This can help people who are asking themselves “how to find a Will of a deceased person online easily”. If there are inconsistencies in the online public notice, the court may delay the process. This will result in the probate being granted later. Here are the needed details in a public notice:
- The date of death;
- The original copy of the Will and any codicils. Codicils are any addition that explains, modifies, or revokes a part of a Will.
- The kind of grant that was ordered. Also, the state in which it was evaluated for the purposes of a reseal
- The executors’ addresses at home.
- The full name of the executor and if they have any other known names
- Names of any existing backup executors should the original executor pass away.
What if It’s Hard To Locate a Will?
How to find a Will of a deceased person online if it’s getting difficult to do so? When a decedent’s family or executor cannot find the deceased’s Will, they should contact the decedent’s solicitor first. The Will-maker should typically leave the original Will at the solicitor’s office when someone writes a Will with the assistance of a lawyer.
The Will-maker gets a copy of the Will and instructions on how to get in touch with the lawyer to retrieve the original Will. A family finding difficulty locating a Will should always contact the decedent’s solicitor because this is standard procedure for solicitors who drafted Wills.
If the family is unsure about the deceased’s lawyer, they may get in touch with nearby lawyers and inquire whether they have the deceased’s Will. People who are still having trouble with how to find a Will online can also seek advice from a family lawyer.
Do You Need Help Locating and Disputing a Will Online?
Finding a Will is a long tedious process when handled alone, especially if you also want to dispute the Will. That’s why JB Solicitors are here to help locate Wills and provide the best options for people who want to contest or challenge a Will.
Our team of Wills and estate planning lawyers can help clients navigate will disputes, probate issues, and other legal matters dealing with the Supreme Court. We have a fixed fees structure to give our clients transparency.
Contact our team of lawyers today to obtain legal advice. You can contact us for help with matters related to the deceased estate or if you have questions on Supreme Court Probate Registry, NSW Trustee or the Succession Act. View more articles on our website.