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Inevitably, after a client has passed away, a family member will call and ask, “Will there be a reading of the Last Will?” The answer is: only if the family wants it. The “reading of the will” is generally something you only see in the movies. It adds to the movie drama (cue the music), when the son finds out in front of the family he has been disinherited.
Logistically, for many families it would be hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Additionally, unless everyone signs a Waiver of Conflict, the attorney cannot provide advice to every member of the family. The attorney can only provide legal advice to their client, generally the Personal Representative/Executor and only after having been engaged for this purpose. If there was a “reading of the will,” chances are high everyone will be asking questions requiring legal advice.
So how do the interested parties know what the Last Will says? Florida law provides the custodian of a Last Will must deposit the original will with the clerk of court in the county having venue of the estate within ten (10) days of knowledge of the death. The court will keep the original Will and it becomes part of the public record. Interested parties are able to obtain a copy from the court upon request. Beneficiaries may also make a request to the Personal Representative of the estate for a copy of the will and they would be entitled to receive it.
Whether the “reading of the will” is fact or fiction really depends on your family. For the majority of clients, it’s pure fiction.
To assist in preventing family drama, an updated estate plan done with a knowledgeable attorney and team of trusted advisors is key. For more information please attend one of our complimentary educational workshops. Bring a friend and a get a free autographed copy of one of Peggy Hoyt’s books. Visit our website atHoytbryan.com or call us for more information at 977-8080.
About the Author: Peggy Hoyt Peggy R. Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy counselling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real estate transactions and animal law.