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What happened to the ‘reading of the will’?

Posted on 18th February 2021
Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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What happened to the reading of the will

You can picture the scene. In a wood panelled library of a law firm, leather-bound books lining the shelves, there is a long glossy conference table around which relatives of someone who has passed away sit anxiously. At the head, a solicitor in a black suit carefully takes a document from a suitcase, stands up and begins “this is the last will and testament of…”

There are gasps of shock and outrage as the terms of the will are read out. One relative weeps at the small pittance they have been left. Another storms out when the solicitor has finished without mentioning their name.

It is a scene sometimes used in movies to create drama and it adds a level of pomp and spectacle to the reading of the will. But it doesn’t happen, not really.

There is no legal requirement to have a reading of a will, even in less dramatic form.

The executor (the person responsible for making sure the details of the will are carried out) needs to locate the original last will. The testator (the person making the will) needs to tell their executors where the original will is located or provide them with a copy of the will immediately after it has been written.

The executor informs each beneficiary named in the will of their entitlements. The executor only has to provide a copy of the will if a beneficiary makes a formal request.

So don’t be surprised if you are not invited to a reading of the will of a loved one who has recently passed away.

Having a will and naming an executor you trust is an important way to make sure your assets and wishes are carried out when you die. If you don’t have a will, or if you want to contest a will, talk to our expert Wills & Estates team. To confidentially discuss your needs call us on 1800 874 949 or fill in the form below, and we will be in touch.

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