We are frequently asked whether an executor has a duty or obligation to “read the Will’. Reading the Will occurs when the executor gathers the relatives and friends of the deceased together, sometimes at the solicitor’s office and the content of the Will is formally read to everyone present.
Does an executor have to read the Will?
No, the executor does not have to read the Will. This practice is not required in Australia.
The law in Queensland provides who can see a copy of someone’s Will after their death. As a result, there is no need to have a formal Will reading but simply, those interested can ask the Executor if they can have a copy of the Will giving consideration to the legal requirements.
So who is entitled to see a deceased’s Will or obtain a copy?
In Queensland, the following people are entitled to a copy of the Will:
- A person mentioned in the Will, whether as beneficiary or not and whether named or not.
What this means is that if the deceased stated in their Will for example, that their estate was to go to their children or nieces or nephews etc. but did not include the names of those people specifically then even so, the children are entitled to see a copy of the Will.
Further, the following people can also inspect and/or obtain a copy of the Will:
- Anyone included in any earlier Will of the Willmaker as a beneficiary, and whether named or not; or
- A spouse, parent or child of the Willmaker; or
- Someone who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the Willmaker if the Willmaker had died without a Will; or
- A parent or guardian of a minor mentioned in the Will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate if the Willmaker had died without a Will; or
- A creditor or other person who has a claim at law or in equity against the estate; or
- Someone who would be eligible to apply to the Court for further provision from the Willmaker’s estate.
If you are having difficulty obtaining a copy of a Will or have obtained a copy of a Will and you have any concerns about that Will, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. The law provides strict timeframes within which action such as challenging a Will must be taken within – so do not delay, obtain advice as soon as possible.