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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is there supposed to be a reading of the Will?


We've all seen those movies where someone has passed away and the family is gathered into an oak-paneled boardroom to hear the deceased's Will read out by the family lawyer. Though it may once have been the practice in some places to hold this kind of gathering, it is no longer done this way.


There is no law that requires the Will in its entirety to be read to the family. These days, beneficiaries of an estate are sent a letter by registered mail that tells them about their inheritance. Unfortunately this doesn't provide opportunity for any greedy relatives to leap dramatically to their feet, yelling to the shocked assembled family members about how unfair the Will is, but that only happened in Hollywood anyway.


I think the outdated belief that all family members are entitled to be present at a reading of a Will is at the bottom of the well-entrenched anger and frustration expressed by family members who want to know what is in someone's Will. They really do believe themselves to be entitled to information based on the fact that they are related to the deceased, even though that isn't true. Non-beneficiaries are not sent anything or told anything about the Will, even if they are family members.


This is not to say that the executor of a deceased person couldn't hold a Will reading if he or she wanted to. This wouldn't replace the requirement to send notices to beneficiaries but it would help out the executor who would prefer to have the lawyer read and explain the terms of the Will rather than try to do so alone.

8 comments:

  1. Very illuminating...Typo on last line..should it be...so go it alone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for pointing out the typo. I've fixed it now. You're right, that last line really didn't make much sense with the typo in it. That post had over 1,000 views and you were the first to let me know about that :)

      Lynne

      Delete
  2. Hello, sorry to bother you. A family member is palliative in Montreal and the belief is that i will have to fly there because I am one of 5 people that will get an equal share of the estate. If i'm reading your column right then i would not have to go correct? I'm in BC btw and cannot afford the price of the ticket

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no reason why someone has to be there in person to inherit something.

      Lynne

      Delete
  3. A wife died a few years ago, she had a son, the husband had a daughter both from previous relationships. The man died a couple days ago. The daughter wasn't aware he was her father until just a few months before he passed. They had a gotten to know each other and talked regularly on the phone. He had no other kids. Apperently his late wife signed everything to her son before she died. Who has entitlement? Don't know if it was a legal will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I understand the question correctly, a wife died and left everything to her son, leaving out her husband. Later the husband died.

      If the wife died first, the man's daughter has nothing to do with it. If, at the time, the husband felt that he was short-changed by his wife's will, he could have contested it to try to get a share of the estate. However, he did not and therefore none of the wife's estate belongs to the husband.

      The daughter may have a right to a share of her father's estate (if she is a minor or if she has a disability) but no claim against his former wife's estate. That ship has sailed.

      Lynne

      Delete
  4. A mother has passed and left a will ,her late husband has moved on ,can her children have their mothers will read regardless?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bit about the late husband moving on is very confusing and I honestly don't know what you mean by that.

      Anyway, you haven't said who is the executor of the will. If one of the children is the executor, he or she can hold a reading of the will if he/she wants to.

      If the executor is not one of the children, please clarify the question for me.

      Lynne

      Delete

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