There is a broad class of people entitled to see a will once someone has died. The first step is to determine if someone fits within that group, which consists of;
- Beneficiaries under the will,
- Beneficiaries in previous wills,
- Any person named or referred to in the will, whether as beneficiary or not,
- The parent/guardian/spouse/ domestic partner or child of the deceased,
- 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;
- Anyone who would be entitled to a share of the estate under intestacy which is based on the relevant State of Australia
- Any creditor or other person who has a claim at law or in equity against the estate of the deceased person and who produces evidence of that claim.
Admittedly the above categories should cover most situations but unfortunately if you are not a family member or entitled under intestacy then in reality you may not know if you were listed as a beneficiary.
Now that we have discussed the who, the next question becomes the how!
If someone has a right to see the will under the Wills Act then they can demand a copy from the Executor or the estate lawyer. If this isn’t successful or there is no entitlement under the Wills Act, a copy can be obtained from the Probate or Public Records Office once Probate has been granted.
In each state the Supreme Court may be able to confirm if Probate has been granted. We know that dealing with the Supreme Court can be quite daunting in which case through our specialist estate planning team we will be able to provide you with information on how to gaining access to a copy of the will. Once located it may be necessary to physically travel into the city to view a copy of the will which can be a problem if probate was obtained in a different state.