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When can you access someone else’s will?

19 May 2016

Topics

  • Wills & Estates

By and large, when creating a will a testator can distribute their assets and property in their estate as they see fit.  In certain situations, however, conflict can arise as to the intentions of the testator or the distribution of the assets to the named beneficiaries.  Though a difficult process, applications can be made to a Court to contest the contents of a will.

To see the contents of a will of a deceased person may be hard for individuals who are not the executor of the will.  However, most Australian jurisdictions (other than South Australia and Western Australia) now have legislation which authorises certain classes of people to be eligible to inspect and make copies of a will of a deceased person.

This means that the person in possession and control of the will (including a revoked will, or a copy of a will, or a document purporting to be a will) must allow any one or more of these classes of people the ability to inspect or be given copies of the will of the deceased person.  It is important to note, though, that any costs for a request to inspect or copy a will must be paid at the requesting individual’s own expense.

The following table outlines the different classes of people who are eligible to inspect and copy the will of a deceased person and the relevant provisions which are applicable for the different states and territories:

See attached table.

If you have a query about your will, or the estate of a family member or loved one, please contact our Wills & Estates team today.