The Succession Act now makes it clear that persons within specific categories are entitled to inspect or be given a copy of a deceased person’s Will. No longer is it left to the discretion of the executor or the estate solicitor as to who sees the Will.
If you fall within one of the categories listed below, then you are entitled to inspect or receive a copy of the last Will of a deceased person and earlier Wills where they are available. This is done at the expense of the person seeking to see or have a copy of the Will, so the estate solicitor is entitled to charge you a reasonable fee for attending to your request.
A solicitor or other person holding the Will cannot refuse your request. A solicitor doing so would likely face disciplinary action.
The categories are :-
- 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;
- the surviving spouse, defacto partner (including same sex) or children of the deceased;
- a parent or guardian of the deceased;
- any person who would be entitled to a share in the estate if the deceased had not left a Will and including a parent or guardian of any minor who would have been entitled to a share had the deceased not left a Will;
- any person who may have a lawful claim against the estate of the deceased, including creditors;
- any person managing the affairs of the deceased under the NSW Trustee & Guardian Act 2009;
- any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased.