When a person dies, you might envision a gathering of the friends and family of the deceased for a ‘reading of the will’. These dramatic scenes are often portrayed in the movies, but, in Australia, there is no requirement for a will to be read in that way and it is rarely done.

A beneficiary named in a will does not automatically receive a copy of the will of a deceased person. However, they have the right to request a copy be provided to them.

Who is entitled to a copy of the will of the deceased?

Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 sets out who is entitled to obtain a copy of the will of the deceased, which includes:

  • any person named or referred to in the last or prior will, whether as a beneficiary or not;
  • the surviving spouse, de facto partner, child, parent or guardian of the deceased person;
  • any person who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the deceased person if the deceased person had died intestate (ie without a will);
  • any parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate if the deceased person died intestate;
  • any person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law or in equity against the estate of the deceased person; and
  • any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person.

How do I obtain a copy of a will?

If you are entitled to a copy of a will of the deceased, you should contact the executor or the person you believe has possession of the will and request a copy. If you can’t locate the executor, or you are not successful with your request, you may need to seek legal advice about the next steps available to you.

What happens if probate has been granted?

Probate is a court order granted by the Supreme Court of NSW. It confirms the will is valid and that the executor has permission to distribute the estate. If probate has already been granted, it may be possible to seek a copy of the grant (which will include a copy of the will) from the Supreme Court of NSW.

If you encounter issues when seeking a copy of the will of a deceased person, or you have been left out of a will, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible to make sure that you secure your legal rights.

Contact one of our expert Wills & Estates Lawyers on (02) 9964 0499 to discuss your situation.

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The articles on this website comprise legal general information and not legal advice. The general information presented here must not be relied upon without legal advice being sought. In the event that you wish to obtain legal advice on the contents of this general information you may do so by contacting our office or your existing solicitor.