Get A Copy of A Will
There are two things to remember when trying to obtain someone’s Last Will and Testament.
Firstly, if the person is still alive you have no right to see it – it is considered private property and no one has the legal right to demand to see a copy.
You can obtain a copy of a deceased person’s will from the executor or the solicitor acting for the estate, but only if you are legally entitled to view it.
Those legally entitled to inspect the will of a deceased person include:
- anyone named or referred to in the will or a previous will
- a beneficiary
- a surviving spouse or de facto partner
- the parent or guardian of the deceased
- anyone who may have a claim against the estate of the deceased
- any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person
- anyone committed with the management of the estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 immediately before the death
- a parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate if no will exists
If the executor of the estate has lodged an application for a Grant of Probate with the NSW Supreme Court you can apply for a copy. There is a fee for this service.
The Probate Registry of the Supreme Court keeps an index that is searchable by the general public.
There is no will
While dying without a will won’t necessarily mean your assets go to the government it does complicate matters considerably and the costs of establishing your rightful beneficiaries would most likely be taken from your estate.
A person who dies without leaving a will is said to have died intestate, and the estate passes to the next of kin according to a special statutory order – typically their spouse or partner, children, parents, or other relatives.
The court appoints an administrator to distribute the estate of the deceased. A family provisions claim against the deceased’s estate can still be made if a will has not been created.
The most obvious disadvantage of intestacy is that the deceased has no control over the distribution of the estate, which must be distributed among the deceased’s nearest blood relatives whether they were close to the deceased or not.
This also occurs when the deceased leaves a will that only distributes part of the estate (partially intestate) or where a will is made but for some reason is ineffective. In this case letters of administration must be applied for.