Have you ever questioned whether you are entitled to view a deceased person's Will?
Have you ever wondered what options you have to access a copy of a Will?
It is common for family members of a deceased testator (i.e., a person who dies with a valid Will) to have such questions about the estate, especially when they are not sure whether they are listed as beneficiaries in a Will. This blog post attempts to clarify (1) who can view a Will, and (2) how a person can view a Will.
Who is Entitled to See a Will?
Before a testator passes away, he or she is generally not required to share the contents of his or her Will with anyone. However, once the testator dies, any person listed in the Will as an executor or beneficiary is entitled to see it. Conversely, if a person is not listed as an executor or beneficiary, he or she will have no entitlement to view the Will.
That being said, when a person does not know whether he or she is an executor or beneficiary under a Will, it may be necessary to view a copy of the Will to be sure.
However, even when someone is entitled to see a Will, that does not necessarily mean he or she will have direct access to it. It is likely that the executor will locate the original Will shortly after the testator's death, but often times the beneficiaries do not see the original or even have a copy of it. It is under these circumstances that the next portion of this post may be helpful.
How Can a Person Get Access to a Will?
The available options to gain access to a Will in Saskatchewan may depend on the unique facts of each scenario, but generally speaking, a person can try the following methods. Where one method is unsuccessful, the next method can be pursued.
Option 1: Ask the executor to show you the original Will or a copy of the Will. If possible, make the request in writing and keep a copy for your records.
Option 2: Contact the Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan and ask whether Letters Probate (or Letters of Administration with Will Annexed) have been granted for "the Estate of [testator]". If so, that grant (including the copy of the Will that is attached to it) is a public court document and anyone is permitted to view a copy or request a copy from the Court (note: there may be a fee associated with doing so).
Option 3: If neither of the above options are available or effective, any person interested in an estate can bring a court application under The Queen's Bench Rules compelling the executor to appear before the Court and produce the Will. Although you may complete this step on your own, a lawyer can provide valuable assistance in bringing such an application.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.