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How do I get a copy of someone's Will?

View profile for Jordan Davies
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Disputing a Will - practical considerations

When someone dies, leaving a Will, there are often different categories of people who would like to see a copy of the testator’s Will. But it isn’t always as simple as asking for a copy, as less people than you would expect are actually entitled to receiving a copy of the document.

Who is entitled to a copy of the Will?

First and foremost, the executors appointed under the Will document, will be the first people to be provided with a copy of the Will. They will be notified of their appointment as executor and asked to confirm whether they are happy to accept their appointment. Sometimes executors will be professionals such as solicitor, sometimes friends and family of the deceased, and often a mix of the two.

Secondly, residuary beneficiaries of the estate will be notified that they are residuary beneficiaries under the Will and they will be provided with a copy of the Will if they wish to see it. Residuary beneficiaries receive the most information in general about the estate administration and accounting as they commonly hold a significant interest in the estate.

Thirdly, beneficiaries receiving pecuniary gifts under the terms of the Will are often notified of their interest in the estate, but are not always provided with a copy of the Will, though are likely to receive a copy should they request one.

Who is not entitled to a copy of the Will?

If you are not an executor under the Will, nor a beneficiary, then you are not likely to be entitled to a copy of the Will. It is a common misconception that being a relative or partner to the testator automatically means that you are entitled to a copy of the Will.

It is at the discretion of the executor to decide whether they will issue you with a copy of the Will, if you are not entitled to one.

How can I obtain a copy of the Will?

If you are not entitled to a copy of the Will in the first instance, you will likely be able to obtain a copy due in course.

Most estates require the executor to apply for a grant of probate, in order to administer the estate. Once probate has been granted, the grant of probate, alongside the Will, become public documents. The documents will be held in the government’s online database and will be available for order and download.

If you require a copy of the Will as you hold concerns as to its validity, or seek to make a claim against the estate, then you may wish to instruct a solicitor to issue a Larke v Nugus request to the solicitor who drafted the Will. A Larke v Nugus request is a specific set of questions, issued to the drafting solicitor, seeking further detail on the instruction, drafting and execution of the Will, alongside a request for a copy of the Will and the solicitors Will file.

If you require advice or assistance with obtaining a copy of a Will, please do get in touch with our specialist contentious probate solicitors and we will be happy to help. Call us on 0161 696 6178.