How and when should a Will be read after death? - Palmers Solicitors

How and when should a Will be read after death?

How and when should a Will be read after death?

Contrary to popular opinion, not to mention Hollywood theatrics, it is rare for an executor to call beneficiaries to a formal meeting to discuss the contents of a Will. In reality, the process is much more informal.

So, what is the “proper” way to read a Will? Here, Helen Jago, a Director with Palmers Solicitors, who specialises in Wills and probates, explains how the process typically unfolds:

How should a Will be read?

The TV and movie industry has painted a perfect picture of how a Will should be read. But in reality, the process is more much informal. Generally, the executor will read the Will in private and inform the beneficiaries of the Will in person, by telephone, or in writing.

Who can read a Will?

Legally, the executor is the only person who can read a Will before probate is granted. Presumed beneficiaries, however, can request sight of the Will with a formal letter of instruction. If refused, the petitioner can file an appeal with the courts.

Some Wills may also list parties who can legally access the document, in addition to the executor.

When is a Will read after death?

While there is no legal timescale, a Will should be read as soon as possible. This ensures that:

  • Funeral instructions are followed. The deceased may ask to be buried or cremated and may also leave instructions on how the funeral should be paid for.
  • Preparations can be made to liquidate and distribute the estate. Depending on the size of the estate, property, cars, art, and other valuable assets may need to be valued and sold.
  • Family pets can be rehomed swiftly.
  • Outstanding bills and loans are paid off. If financial matters are not addressed quickly, the executor may experience financial hardship paying the debt themselves
  • Third parties can raise objections to the Will. Legal matters may take months to be resolved, so appeals should be raised quickly
  • The appropriate specialists can be contacted. This may include a solicitor, accountant, valuer, or property agent
  • Taxes can be paid. Inheritance tax (IHT) must be paid no later than six months from the end of the month in which the deceased died or interest will be payable.

For help and advice with writing a Will or with dealing with Probate, please get in touch with our expert later life planning team.