If a loved one passes away, you hope that they have a will or an estate plan to show you what to do with their assets.
In the event that your loved one leaves behind a will, are you going to attend a will reading to find out what it says?
Readings of the will are exceedingly rare today
You may have seen this play out in a popular movie or TV show. It can create a lot of drama, and it’s typically used as a vehicle for something unexpected. For instance, maybe the heirs all find out that they have to do something together to get their inheritance or learn that the inheritance itself contains assets they never knew existed.
While this works well in storytelling, it’s not how things happen in real life. When illiteracy rates were higher in previous centuries, will readings were used because the lawyer or executor may have been the only person who could actually read the document. Today, since the vast majority of people are literate, they’re no longer needed. The drama from movies and TV shows is just for effect.
What does happen when a will is opened?
What typically happens is that all the heirs or people named in the estate plan will be given a copy of that will to read on their own. These copies are distributed shortly after the person passes away. While family members can and do gather to discuss the will on their own, there is no official meeting where it is read for the first time.
As you and your family move through this process, make sure that you are well aware of all of the legal steps you’ll need to take to settle your loved one’s estate. An experienced advocate can help.