Many movies portray the reading of a Last Will and Testament as a dramatic event that the entire family attends. Although the reading of wills occurred in earlier times when copying legal documents was costly and there was widespread illiteracy, today dramatic will readings are left only for the movies or television shows. For most estates, the attorney for the deceased will determine who is entitled to receive a copy of your Will so they can read it for themselves.
The individual you appointed as your personal representative or trustee and the named beneficiaries should each be provided a copy of your Will. In some situations, it may be wise for an accountant or an experienced estate planning attorney familiar with taxation issues to also review the Will and decide what it provides regarding paying creditor’s claims and estate taxes.
If certain parties emerge to object to the validity of the Will (for example, disinherited heirs), a copy of the Will is typically provided to them as well. If the challenge to the Will is based upon a question of which of the deceased’s Wills is effective and current, this simple disclosure can generally resolve the dispute. If the dispute is not resolved, your lawyer will want to set a deadline for filing an action to contest the Will.
It is important to note that once your Will has been admitted for probate, it becomes a public record that can be accessed by anyone who is interested in reading it. There are certain situations in which the beneficiaries may seek permission from the probate court to seal the court records and prevent public access to the Will, but you must obtain a court order for this to occur. Most judges only approve this request in rare circumstances. If maintaining your privacy is a critical concern for you, creating a Trust may be an option to consider in establishing your estate plan.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.