Can I see my father’s previous wills?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle answers your personal finance questions

The only will that has any legal authority is the most recent one properly drawn up and witnessed. Photograph: iStock

The only will that has any legal authority is the most recent one properly drawn up and witnessed. Photograph: iStock

 

My father died and the will is fully finished. Can I get to see previous will he had made?

Mr T.O’D., email

The simple answer is no. The only will that has any legal authority is the most recent one properly drawn up and witnessed.

Each new will revokes all previous wills so they are worthless. And as a will is only readily accessible following probate, earlier wills will not be available to you from the probate office.

The only time where this becomes an issue is where a will is challenged either as invalid in how it was drawn up or that it was drawn up under duress. If a court agrees, then the will is invalid and the executor has to go back to the previous will – where it exists and if it can be found.

Awry

As people tend to stick with their solicitor, it is likely that your father’s solicitor would have kept previous wills just in case something went awry. But, again, even if he did, you have no right to view them.

And as you said this will is “fully finished” which I take to mean that probate has been granted and the estate distributed according to its terms, then the question is moot – no previous will has any validity at this point and you have no automatic right to access them.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be entered into.

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