The right to see a person’s will after they die depends on whether probate has been granted. If it isn’t, only those named executors are entitled to do so before their death but once the grant of Probate is obtained, that situation changes, and the Will becomes a public document.

The executors of a Will are the ones who should allow anyone else access to the Will before the grant of probate. If anyone other than the named executor requests a copy of the Will, the organisation or person storing the will (banks or solicitors’ firms) should refuse unless with the express consent of the executors.

How long does probate take?

The time it takes to make a probate application is not limited, though there are certain aspects where you should act promptly. One such example would be paying Inheritance Tax (IHT) before granting the grant of Probate and in any event by 6 months following your loved one’s death or risk being charged interest by the HMRC.

Once the application has been made, it can take between a few weeks or months to be processed by the Probate Registry. The process may be longer, depending on the taxable estate.

It is important to note that only the current Will at the time of death will be provided to the probate registry. All earlier will and codicil remain private.

There is no specific legal requirement that entitles a beneficiary to see the Will. If you have requested for a copy of the Will and the executors continue to deny you a copy of the Will, you as the beneficiary may consider instructing solicitors to formally request a copy of the Will.

If this approach does not work, there is the option of applying to the court to compel the executors. However, applications of this nature are rare and have significant cost implications.

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