Many individuals across the US use the services of a will-writing company to put on paper their final wishes, to be read and enacted upon their death. This is a long-standing tradition across Western societies – and one of the ways in which a will often works is in distributing the wealth of the deceased amongst family members and close friends. As such, lawyers are often involved in the reading and initiation of the requests in a will. In this short piece, we’ll see what you should do when you’re left with the will of a loved one who has sadly passed away.
Open the Will
Unless you have reason to believe that the will that’s in your possession should only be opened by an arbiter or adjudicator such as a lawyer, you are free to unseal a will in the event of the death of the will’s author. Most individuals who write a will make more than one copy; this is to prevent bad actors from pretending to have the authentic will when they, in fact, have forged one. The introduction to the will often details how you might proceed.
Many wills require or demand legal assistance. Additionally, most wills are actually left with a trusted lawyer or legal professional, who the recently deceased once placed their trust in to follow through on the demands made in their will. As such, you’ll often be making a trip to a lawyer’s office to hear the contents of a will. Even if the will is in your hands, and it fails to mention a lawyer, you may still prefer to invite a lawyer – often someone familiar with your family – to help you read and enact the contents of the will.
The enacting of a will takes place as soon after the deceased’s funeral as can reasonably be expected. This is especially true for those ‘live’ assets and investments that ought to pass into the hands of their inheritors as soon as possible, so they might be managed and upheld. The enacting of a will is performed by an executor, who will help to accurately – and legally – distribute the assets detailed in the will. The author of the will sometimes names an executor, while other times it falls naturally to a member of the family. In either case, this role is incredibly important.
Sometimes, disputes arise with the enacting of the wishes and contents of a will. This is often a point of dramatic tension in films and television series, but it’s also something that commonly happens when a deceased family member‘s assets are divided, often seemingly unequally. If a dispute erupts in your reading of a family member’s will, you must involve a lawyer. They will be the impartial adjudicator of the contents of the will, and they will be able to settle matters of dispute within your family on the reading of the will.
These tips will help you deal responsibly with the contents of a will when a loved one passes away in the future.