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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I think the outdated belief that all family members are entitled to be present at a reading of a Will is at the bottom of the well-entrenched anger and frustration expressed by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.


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

    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 :)



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