Who is Entitled to Receive a Copy of Your Will Upon Death?

HNWElder Law, Estate Administration and Probate

The question of who receives a copy of the will after a death is a common one. Despite what most people think, there is no requirement that a copy of the will be read aloud to all family members gathered in a room. Instead, the original will is supposed to be given to the lawyer for the estate. The attorney then distributes a copy of the will to the people who have an interest in it.

So who exactly should receive a copy of the will? Are you entitled to receive a copy? Who should you give the will of a recently deceased person to? Obviously the first person that must receive the original will is the estate’s attorney. If you have the original copy of the will of a family member that has recently passed away, you should give it to your attorney immediately. They will then read the will and determine who has an interest in it, sending copies to all those interested. The executor or personal representative of the estate is entitled to a copy of the will for obvious reasons. They represent the estate in all probate matters.

Anyone who is named as a beneficiary should also receive a copy of the will. This includes the guardians of any minors who are named as beneficiaries in the will. If it is expected or even possible that the validity of the will may be challenged, the attorney should send a copy to those who aren’t included in the will and are contemplating challenging it. This begins the clock on the time allowed for them to challenge the will.

If the will funds a trust, the trustee and successor trustee are entitled to a copy of the will. The estate’s accountant is usually entitled to a copy of the will as well, as is the IRS if the estate is taxable. It is also important to note that once a will goes through the probate process it becomes court record. Since court records are open to the public, the will therefore becomes available for anyone to see after the probate process is complete.

If you are a beneficiary of a will, or associated with the will in any of the matters listed above, you are entitled to a copy of the document. If you have any further questions please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a knowledgeable New Jersey Will and Estate Planning Attorney today. He can be reached by telephone toll-free at 888-800-7442 or by email at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com/. You’ll be glad to know that he is very approachable and experienced in Wills and Trusts.

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