We are often contacted by people who, despite asking the executor for a copy of their recently departed loved ones’ will, are refused a copy of that will.
What to do if you are refused a copy
The Parliament of New South Wales has enacted specific legislation that requires a person who has a will in their possession to provide particular people with a copy of that will.
Who is entitled for a copy
Section 54 of the Succession Act 2006 states the following:
- A person who has possession or control of a will of a deceased person must allow any one or more of the following persons to inspect or be given copies of the will:
- any person named or referred to in the will, whether as a beneficiary or not,
- any person named or referred to in an earlier will as a beneficiary of the deceased person,
- the surviving spouse, de facto partner (whether of the same or the opposite sex) or issue of the deceased person,
- a 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,
- any parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the testator if the testator had 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,
- any person committed with the management of the deceased person’s estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 immediately before the death of the deceased person,
- any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person,
- any person belonging to a class of persons prescribed by the regulations.
As can be seen from the above, the categories of people entitled to inspect a deceased person’s will are quite broad, ranging from the deceased’s spouse, to their parents, and even a potential creditor of their estate.
Definition a will
It is also interesting to note that in the same section, “will” is defined as including the following documents:
- a revoked will;
- a document purporting to be a will;
- a part of a will; and
- a copy of a will.
These encompass a wide range of documents, and in fact even include an earlier will that has since been revoked or superseded.
How we can help
Sadly, all too often, even though a person may be entitled to a copy of a deceased person’s will by law, an executor will refuse to provide a copy. If this has occurred to you, or you are not sure if you are entitled to a copy of a deceased person’s will, we encourage you to contact Turner Freeman Lawyers, who can assist you in obtaining a copy of a will, and provide you with further information and advice as to any rights and entitlements that you may have.