This is a question which we are frequently asked. The answer is not as straightforward as you may think.
To answer this question, it is best to separate it into two main parts: before the Grant of Probate and after the Grant of Probate. Under a third heading, we then go on briefly to discuss the issues raised.
Before the Grant
At this point, only the executors who are named in the Will are allowed to see the Will. The Will is a private document until admitted to probate.
This strict position can be negated if the executors choose to provide a copy of the Will but they are under no obligation to do so.
After the Grant
Once a Grant has been obtained, the Will becomes a public document. At this point, anyone can obtain a copy of the Will by using the Gov.uk website. There is a small fee to pay and often there is a short waiting time until you can download the document.
Alternatively, you can set up a standing search with the Probate Registry which will notify you when a Grant has been issued in an estate.
As the general position is that executors are the only ones entitled to see the Will before the Grant, you may wonder how a challenge to the validity of a Will can be made in an appropriate and timely fashion.
The answer to this entirely depends on the particular circumstances of the case, but often a Larke v Nugus request is made of the Will drafter before the Grant is issued. It is likely that the consequence of such a request is that a copy of the Will is forthcoming.
A caveat can also be lodged if there are serious concerns about the validity of the Will, but advice should be taken in this regard as often caveats are misused.
It is often helpful to reveal the contents of a Will prior to the Grant, particularly in cases which may be contentious. However, this requires careful consideration, particularly if the whereabouts of the original Will are unknown; or if the content of the Will may cause concern or upset.
How we can help?
If you have concerns about the validity of a Will or are in dispute with the executors of an estate, then you can contact us to arrange a £95 fixed fee meeting. Please call our office in Reading on 0118 958 9711.
Get in Touch
If you would like further information, Nicholas Buckle offers an initial one hour fixed fee meeting at a cost of £95 (inc. VAT). During these meeting we can discuss your personal circumstances, options and possible next steps. Nick specialises on a broad range of contentious probate matters.
Due to the current circumstances, meetings can occur via telephone. We are hoping that meetings at our office in Reading can occur soon. Please call the office on 0118 9589711 or email [email protected] if you would like to book a meeting.