Estate planning

Do you know who can access your will?

It may come as a surprise to you that upon your death your will may be accessed not only by your executor but also by the following people:

  • any person named or referred to in the will, whether as a beneficiary or not;
  • any person mentioned as a beneficiary (whether specifically named or not) in any earlier will;
  • your spouse, parent or issue (children, grand-children etc);
  • any person who would be entitled to a share of your estate if you had died intestate, that is without a will;
  • a parent or guardian of a minor mentioned in the will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate if you had died intestate;
  • a creditor or other person who has a claim at law or in equity against your estate; or
  • any person who is eligible to make a family provision application against your estate.

If your will is admitted to probate, any member of the public may access your will from the Court Registry generally upon payment of a small fee.

During your lifetime, an administrator appointed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (formerly the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal) or your financial attorney appointed by you in your enduring power of attorney may also access your will.

There are steps that can be taken to protect your personal privacy post-death, generally this involves limiting the assets owned by you personally. Most celebrities and high profile business people choose to hold their assets in trusts and companies – not only for asset protection and tax planning purposes, but also for the privacy this affords them.

I recommend you seek legal advice if you would like to know more about protecting your personal privacy post-death.