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Home » Firm News » Estate planning: Not like in the movies

There are many mistakes people make when it comes to planning an estate. Many individuals could avoid these mistakes with an attorney by their side. For instance, a lot of people seem to assume the only thing needed after death is a will. While a will is certainly important, people need to develop other documents to ensure all their assets become divided the way they want.

Numerous misconceptions are a result of what people see on television and film. Movies tend to exaggerate or make up legal processes to create a more compelling storyline while the truth is generally much simpler.

Reading of the will

Long ago, it was true that attorneys would read the will to members of the family to go over who received what. This was a necessity because many people years ago were illiterate. With advancements in education, a formal reading of the will does not actually happen. These days, the lawyer merely sends a copy of the will to all beneficiaries. This eliminates a lot of potential bad blood because people excluded from the will do not go into the same room as family members to hear they were left off.

Anyone can look at the will

This myth seems to persist due to the belief there is an actual reading of the will. Family members and friends may feel entitled to look at the will even though the document makes no mention of them. The executor must supply a copy of the will to everyone mentioned on the page. Other people may receive a copy only under conditions brought by the executor. For example, an attorney may believe a disinherited heir may bring a lawsuit against other members of the family, so in an attempt to get ahead of the problem, the lawyer supplies a full copy of the will to the disinherited heir. However, all wills become part of the public record once they are in probate.