Myth-busters #5 I am entitled to know when a family member has made a Will and what it says

This is a tricky point, that has come up with several clients over the years. In brief, you have no such entitlement.

To understand this aspect of Wills and probate law, it is important to first make a clear distinction between what you may feel you are morally entitled to know and what the law says you are entitled to know.

When any individual makes a Will, that Will is their private personal property until they die. They do not even have to tell anyone that they have made a Will, although it would be sensible to do so, because it will make it easier to find when they have died.

There is no legal basis on which anyone apart from the person making the Will (called the Testator) has any right to know that a Will exists, to see the Will or to know its contents, certainly whilst the person who made it is still alive.

Whilst you may therefore have certain expectations that your spouse, sibling, parent or child will tell you when they make a Will, let you know what is in it and/or give you a copy, these expectations are not bound in law.

Even after death, the content of any person’s Will is only made public if a Grant of Administration (or Probate) is obtained. If no Grant is required, then the only people who are entitled to see a Will are :

  • The Executors and Trustees;
  • The residuary beneficiaries;
  • Any named beneficiary who is receiving a specific gift or sum of money is entitled to see the specific clause relating to their gift;

If therefore you do not fall into one of these three categories, you have no automatic right to see the Will and neither the Executors nor any other person has a duty to show it to you, although they may agree if you ask them, depending on the circumstances.

Need further help?

If you would like any further information about your rights in respect to another person’s Will, challenging a Will or any other estate planning matter, from a qualified, authorised and regulated Solicitor, contact the reassuring experts at Roche Legal.

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