Am I allowed to see the will?

Published 26 Nov 2014

Author: David Cossalter

Deciding to contest a will is often a big decision, with some disputes taking years to resolve. It's therefore not surprising that many people want to see a copy of the will in question before they take the plunge on an inheritance dispute.

However, not everyone is entitled to see a will under NSW laws. In fact, Section 54(2) of the Succession Act 2006 clearly outlines who is allowed to inspect the document.

Before requesting a copy of the will, check whether you are on this list of approved individuals:

  • Any person named or referred to in the will
  • Any person who was a beneficiary in a previous will written by the deceased
  • Surviving spouses or de-facto partners
  • Parents or guardians of the decedent
  • Individuals who would have been eligible for a share of the deceased's assets if they had died intestate
  • People or creditors who have a claim against the deceased
  • Anyone who managed the deceased's estate immediately prior to them passing away
  • An attorney under the deceased's enduring power of attorney
  • Any parent or guardian of a minor who is mentioned in the will and would be entitled to receive a share of the estate if the deceased died intestate
  • Certain individuals who belong to a class of person noted in the NSW succession regulations

Obtaining a copy of the will

If you feel you are entitled to view the will, the next step in potentially making a claim is to obtain a copy of the document to build your case.

The simplest way to do this is to ask the executor or their solicitor for a copy of the will. The NSW Supreme Court probate registry may also be able to provide a copy from their records.

However, if the Supreme Court does not have one and you're not sure of the executor's identity or contact details, there are still a number of options.

You can first check local newspapers in the area that the deceased lived. There may be a death notice or obituary providing relevant details to track down the executor.

Finally, people who want to challenge a will can lodge a caveat. This prevents a grant of probate from being issued for up to six months.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to receive a copy of a will or you would like more information on lodging a caveat, contact a specialist inheritance disputes lawyer today.

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