How do I view the contents of a will?

Published 12 Jan 2016

Author: David Cossalter

After the passing of a family member or friend, the last thing that most people think about is what they might receive from the deceased's estate. However, this is a conversation that does arise and something you must be prepared for.

The problem that many people face is that they have no idea if they have been included in a will in the first place. This could be because they weren't in close contact with the deceased before their death or simply weren't present when the will was first read.

If you do find yourself in this situation, what are your options and are you able to view the contents of a will?

Talking to the executor

As long as you get in contact with the executor of the will before the 12 month time limit, this should give you enough time to learn of the contents of the will and make a decision on whether or not you will challenge it.

An executor is responsible for the administration of the deceased's estate and should be able to help your request. If you are finding this process time consuming or unreasonable, it is important to contact a wills and estates lawyer who can advise you on your further options.

These professionals can begin court proceedings on your behalf or consult with the executor of the estate to negotiate a settlement.

Can I see the will?

In similar fashion to the parameters of those who can contest a will, there are only certain parties who are eligible to see the will before probate is granted.

Under the Succession Act 2006, section 54, you must be one of the following people to view the contents of a will.

  • A spouse, de facto partner or child of the deceased
  • A parent or guardian of the deceased
  • A person named or referred to in an earlier version of the will as a beneficiary of the estate
  • A person name or referred to in the current version of the version, regardless of beneficiary or not
  • Anyone who would have been eligible to share the estate if the deceased had died without a will (intestate)
  • Any person/creditor who might have a financial claim against the deceased

Part of making the decision on whether to contest a will or not is viewing the document itself. For more information about whether this is possible in your situation, contact an expert lawyer today.

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