Hollywood magic has created the expectation that once someone passes away, the family will gather at the deceased’s attorney’s office and sit expectantly to hear the reading of the Will.
Formal readings of a Will are just that, Hollywood Magic, but in actuality, things proceed very differently.
The person’s status in regards to the Will is important. An executor is the person who administers the estate and follows the directions in the Will. A beneficiary is someone listed in the Will to inherit. An heir is someone who would inherit if there was no Will, but are not listed in the Will. That means a person can be a: (1) beneficiary; (2) heir and beneficiary; or (3) disinherited heir. A beneficiary or heir can also be the executor of the Will.
Traditionally, when someone passes away, the Will is located and the executor files the Will with the probate court if necessary. The probate court is found in the Superior Court of the county where the deceased lived. The probate court allows for the Will to be administered if transfers are required for personal property of $75,000+ and/or real estate of $100,000+ in equity.
How do you know what’s in the Will if there is no reading? The executor should give notice to all beneficiaries of the Will and must provide a copy to a beneficiary if requested. Additionally, if the Will goes through probate, all beneficiaries and heirs are given notice of the proceedings.
If you think you’re in the Will, you may demand a copy. Beneficiaries and executors are entitled to the portion that pertains to them. If you’re not in the Will, you can’t get a copy.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Attorney Kelsi Lane with Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at (480) 733-6800 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.