You have no doubt watched movies or TV shows where everyone gathers in the lawyer’s office, solemn and perhaps anxious about the “reading of the will“. The will is then read aloud by the lawyer to all interested parties. It is unknown where this idea came from but it never happens in real life. There is no legal requirement that a will or a trust be read out loud to family members. As a practical matter, family members usually know where their loved one’s will or trust is located and it may be several weeks until they even consult with a lawyer about what should be done. At that point, the lawyer may even provide copies to the beneficiaries.
With a will, the will is filed with the Probate Court to start the probate process and once that happens, the will is a matter of public record, open to anyone who wants to view it. That is how the public knows so much about celebrities and their wills.
If you have a trust, the trust which becomes irrevocable at your death, your beneficiaries and heirs are entitled to a copy of the trust but your trust does not become public. Privacy is one of the advantages of a trust over a will.
If you need assistance with determining what needs to be done after the death of a loved one, contact the estate planning attorneys at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation. We can help with probate or trust administration. Feel free to call us with any question you have about probate, trust administration or any other estate planning question.