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Does an estate administrator need to set up a “reading of the will?”

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate |

People sometimes believe that family members need to gather together after someone passes away, and then the estate administrator will read the will to the family. This administrator could be a third party, but it also may be a beneficiary – such as one of the deceased person’s adult children – who has been tasked with handling the estate. They also have to inventory assets, pay debts and more.

In fact, you will often see this same scenario play out in many movies and television shows. Family members may be surprised to learn what they received – or did not receive – in the will, and disputes can stem from that event. But do these will readings actually take place?

There is no legal requirement

No, will readings are not very common and generally do not happen with the modern probate process. The estate administrator does have to communicate with the heirs and provide a copy of the will, but they do not have to get everyone together to read it in a group setting.

In the past, when literacy rates were much lower, a “reading of the will” may have been a necessity. Many people named in the will couldn’t read it and would not know what they were entitled to. But literacy rates are high enough now that heirs and beneficiaries generally just get a copy of the document itself, and they can read it to find out what they have inherited on their own.

This doesn’t mean the disputes won’t still happen, though. Probate can be very complex, and everyone involved needs to know exactly what steps to take.