There are several ways that a testator (the person who is making the will) can store her/his will and/or information about her/his will.
Section 51 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) allows a testator to voluntarily deposit her/his will with the Registrar of the Supreme Court during her/his lifetime or to have someone voluntarily deposit her/his will after her/his death but before the grant (when the executor obtains authority to administer the will). If the testator chooses this method, the will must be in a sealed envelope with the relevant details and fee of $116 must be paid. If the Registrar fails to store the will, the will’s validity is unaffected.
Right to obtain a copy of the will:
If the testator or another person deposits the testator’s will with the Registrar under the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), the testator can apply in writing for the Registrar to give her/him or another authorised person the will. Alternatively, after the testator’s death, any executor can apply to the Registrar to be given the will.
Certain people (e.g. a person named in the will, the testator’s parent, the testator’s spouse or de facto partner, a creditor, an enduring power of attorney) can inspect or obtain copies of the will after the testator’s death and before a grant is made.
The testator can lodge her/his will with the NSW Trustee and Guardian for safe custody. The NSW Trustee and Guardian must maintain an index of wills lodged with it for safe custody.
The testator can register the details of her/his will for free in the Wills Registry of the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If the testator uses this method, the will itself is not stored in the registry and the details of benefits under the will and beneficiaries will remain confidential to the testator or the testator’s authorised representative until the testator dies. After the time of death, relevant individuals can search and obtain a certificate.
The testator can also store her/his will with lawyers, banks or organisations such as the Australian Wills Register.
This article reflects the law as at 25 August 2013. The law changes rapidly so do not rely on this article but consult a lawyer.