Who can inspect the will of a deceased?

Posted on July 1st, 2014

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by Lana Black

Lana Black is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay and is part of our Commercial & Property Law team.

While you are living no one other than yourself is entitled to inspect your will; of course this does not prevent you from allowing someone to inspect your will while you are living. But what happens after you die, who can inspect your will then?

Under Section 54 of the Succession Act a person who has possession or control of your will after your death must allow anyone or more of the following persons to inspect or be given copies of the will:-

(a) any person named or referred to in the will;

(b) any person named or referred to in an earlier will as a beneficiary;

(c) your surviving spouse, de facto partner (whether of the same or the opposite sex) or child;

(d) your parent or guardian;

(e) any person who would be entitled to a share of the estate if you had died intestate (without a will);

(f) any parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate if you had died intestate;

(g) any person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law or in equity against the estate;

(h) any person committed with the management of your estate immediately before your death; and

(i) any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by you.

It is therefore important when preparing your will to keep in mind the wide range of people who may subsequently view it following your death. While it is often a document which testators do not want revealed to certain people so as to avoid disharmony after his or her death, the Succession Act does not allow a testator to prevent this anymore. Careful drafting should therefore be undertaken, particularly before deciding to include reasons for certain testamentary intentions within your will.

Lana Black is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay and practises primarily in residential and commercial property transactions and estate planning and administration.  If you require any assistance in this area please contact Lana Black to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle office.

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