Earlier this week we blogged about the reading of Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s Will before his family. The reading of a Will to family members and beneficiaries upon someone’s death used to be very common in America. In fact, many attorneys who drafted a client’s Will would retain the original in the attorney’s safe, ensuring the family would contact the attorney upon a client’s passing.
More and more these days, especially with the numerous ways people can safeguard their Will and other important documents, many clients choose to personally safeguard their own Will. With that change, the formality of an attorney reading a Will to a grieving family has lost popularity as well. These days, unless there is a substantial inheritance (above and beyond that of what Mandela left behind), most families do not request or require a formal reading of the Will.
With that said, many families will still consult with an attorney about what steps need to be taken to move forward in probating a loved one’s Will. There are, of course, still courthouse formalities and filings that must be completed to properly administer a loved one’s estate upon the loved one’s passing. Depending upon the situation and how arduous the administration will be (as some estates are much more complicated than others), some families will opt for an attorney to handle the administration of the Will at that time. Nevertheless, the formalities of an attorney reading a Will before family members appears largely in the American past.