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:

  1. 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:
  1. any person named or referred to in the will, whether as a beneficiary or not,
  2. any person named or referred to in an earlier will as a beneficiary of the deceased person,
  3. the surviving spouse, de facto partner (whether of the same or the opposite sex) or issue of the deceased person,
  4. a parent or guardian of the deceased person,
  5. any person who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the deceased person if the deceased person had died intestate,
  6. 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,
  7. any person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law or in equity against the estate of the deceased person,
  8. 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,
  9. any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person,
  10. 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These encompass a wide range of documents, and in fact even include an earlier will that has since been revoked or superseded.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.