Who is Entitled to See a Will After Death in the UK?

When someone close to you dies, it is an upsetting and painful time. But it can also be stressful handling your loved one’s Will – or waiting for someone else to do it.

If you’re a beneficiary, you might have worries about the way that the estate is being handled. You may feel the executor is not acting as your loved one would have wished, or that the process is taking too long.

In situations like these, you could find yourself asking who is entitled to see the Will and at what stage it’s possible to get sight of it. In this guide, we cover each of these points, as well as explaining how you can request a copy of someone’s Will.

Keep reading to find out more or get in touch with our knowledgeable team for advice that’s tailored to you.

How long after death is a Will read?

There is no legal timeline in place for when the reading of a Will should happen. But it is recommended that this is arranged as early as possible. Doing this will help the executor of the Will to:

  • Follow any funeral or burial wishes
  • Make time for any objections to the Will to be addressed
  • Pay off any outstanding loans or debts
  • Pay relevant taxes – inheritance tax will need to be paid within six months before interest is applied
  • Start to make arrangements for distributing the estate

It’s important to note that the process of reading a Will is much more informal than most people have been led to believe. Movies and TV shows have often contained scenes of a whole family gathered around to hear their loved one’s wishes, but this is rarely the case in reality.

Who can see a Will after a death?

In England and Wales, who can see a Will depends on the stage of probate you’re in. If the grant of probate has been issued, a Will is considered a public document. This means anyone can apply to the Probate Registry for a copy.

But before the grant of probate is issued, only named executors of the Will are entitled to see it. While beneficiaries can request to see the Will at this stage, it will be up to the executor to decide whether or not they share the document.

Similarly, if you make a request to the individual or organisation storing the Will – such as the bank or solicitor of the person who has passed away – they will need the permission of all named executors before letting you see it.

Potential issues

When an estate is being dealt with, you might find that you have some concerns about its administration.

If you’re worried that the Will executor is mismanaging the estate or that they’re not working as quickly as they should, the first thing you should do is raise your worries with them directly.

Administering an estate is a big responsibility, and it can take time. It may be that the executor is gathering information before distributing assets, or they could still be paying outstanding debts. There are numerous factors that could delay the process, and finding out what these are could help to alleviate your concerns.

If, however, you find yourself being ignored by the executor, you could have grounds to take legal action. This is where an experienced Wills, estates and probate solicitor could help you.

How a solicitor could help

If your requests to see a Will are continuously disregarded by the executor, you may be entitled to take legal action.

Our solicitors are experienced in handling cases involving probate dispute, and they may be able to help you make a court application that forces the executor to obtain probate. This would then mean that anyone is able to see the Will.

We understand how difficult it is to lose someone you care about and then have to worry about the administration of their estate. If we can help you, we’ll do all we can to take some of the pressure off your shoulders.

To find out more about our services, give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or start your enquiry online.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


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