How do I obtain a copy of a loved one's will?

Published 07 Mar 2017

It is rarely an easy decision to contest the will of a loved one, but you may be left with no other course of action in some cases.

Before you pursue a will dispute, you'll probably want to see a copy of the will to have a better understanding of the deceased's estate and chosen beneficiaries.

But not everyone is eligible to view a will. In fact, Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) sets out clear instructions for who is entitled to inspect an individual's will.

Importantly, for the purposes of this part of the Act, a will includes all previous wills and any document that claims to be a will. Let's take a closer look at who can obtain a copy and how.

Are you eligible for a copy?

Section 5 of the Act outlines the people who are allowed to inspect the will of a deceased person, including:

  • Surviving spouses or de-facto partners
  • Parents or guardians of the testator
  • Anyone named or referred to in the will  
  • Beneficiaries
  • Parents and guardians of minors mentioned in the will
  • Individuals who may have a claim at law or equity against the deceased's estate
  • People committed with the management of a deceased's estate under the NSW Trustee & Guardian Act (2009)
  • Attorneys acting under the deceased's powers of attorney

If you believe you are eligible to see the will, then the individuals who have possession or control of the document are obliged to provide you with a copy or allow you to inspect it.

This is only possible once the testator has died and cannot be used to obtain a copy while someone is still alive.

Getting a copy of the will

The executor of a will should contact anyone who is named within the document once a grant of probate is issued, at which point you can ask for a copy.

However, if you are not informed of the death of a loved one, but later become aware, you can contact the executor or their solicitors and ask directly.

It is also possible to get in touch with the NSW Supreme Court's probate registry, as they may have a copy of the will on file.

Are you unhappy after seeing the will of someone close to you? Please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.

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