Recently, I read about an application which was made to the Court to allow a copy of a Will to be used to obtain a Grant of Probate. Usually when completing an application for Grant of Probate, the original Will of the deceased must be provided to the Court. This is why I always ensure that after preparing Wills for clients, I keep the originals in safe custody at my office, to minimise the risk of these important documents being lost or destroyed.
In this case, the sister of the deceased, who was appointed in the Will as the Executor of the estate, went to great efforts to try to locate the original Will. She carried out a comprehensive search and publicly advertised that the Will was missing, and requested information about its whereabouts. Unfortunately, her search was unsuccessful so she made an application to the Court to use the copy of the Will in her application for Grant of Probate.
In Queensland, there is no provision in the legislation for what to do if only a copy of a Will is available. The test to use for deciding whether or not the copy can be used in applying for a Grant of Probate derives from cases and is as follows:
In determining the orders to be made, the Chief Justice considered the following:
If you are listed as the Executor of a friend or family member’s Will, and only a copy of the Will can be found after the person passes away, you should obtain the advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require assistance.