The Reading of a Will in Australia

Many people in Australia wonder how long after someone dies is there a reading of the will?

While Hollywood films portray scenarios where friends and family of the deceased gather together for a reading of a will, in Australia, there is no legal requirement for the executor to hold such a proceeding.

This can leave potential beneficiaries wondering if and when they will receive anything from their loved one’s estate, during an already difficult time.

Although there is no official ceremony for the reading of a will in Australia, wills should be read and dealt with within 12 months of the date of the deceased.

Who Can Obtain a Copy of the Will?

Under the Succession Act NSW (2006), any person in possession of a will relating to an estate in NSW must arrange a copy of the will for anyone who is:

  • Named in the will, whether as a beneficiary or not
  • Named or referred to in any previous wills prepared by the deceased
  • The surviving child or spouse of the deceased
  • The parent or guardian of the deceased
  • Any person who would have been deemed entitled to a share of the estate if the deceased had died without a will (intestate)
  • Any person who has a claim against the estate
  • Any person who was managing the estate before the deceased’s death

There may be costs associated with obtaining a copy of the will which will need to covered by the person making the request.

How to Obtain a Copy of the Will?The Reading of a Will in Australia

If you believe you are someone who is entitled, you can take the following steps to obtain a copy of the will:

  • Firstly, contact the executor/s and request a copy of the will
  • If you find, for whatever reason, that the executor won’t provide you with a copy of the will you can make contact with their solicitor to request a copy
  • If the above two steps fail, you should contact the NSW Supreme Court probate registry as they may have a copy of the will in their records

To receive a copy of the will, you may need to prove you are eligible under the Succession Act.

If you are finding it challenging to obtain a copy of the document, now may be an excellent time to engage the services of a lawyer for guidance and advice.

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