Does Florida Require a Reading of the Will After Someone Dies?
We’ve all seen it done in movies and on television often enough that it has become part of our collective consciousness, but does a “reading of the will” ever really take place? Does an attorney really gather every one of the descendant’s relatives and friends from across the globe, bring them into a room full of dusty law books, unseal a secret scroll, and read it out loud?
The truth is that events like this almost never occur in Florida — or anywhere else. When someone dies, a person appointed in the will as the decedent’s personal representative typically handles the probate process, the official procedure for carrying out the provisions of the will.
Part of this process does include notifying the appropriate parties. However, rather than gathering them all into one room, the personal representative typically contacts each relative through mail. A document known as a notice of administration must be sent to relatives including the surviving spouse as well as trustees, beneficiaries and others who may be entitled to exempt property. Many people waive the right to receive official notice, especially when the matter involves a small estate and a close family.
Additionally, those who were named in previous wills, or other people who may try to claim an interest in the estate, may be served with notice of administration. Once they have received the notice, they can challenge the validity of the will or its contents. If the will is not contested, the personal representative will complete the probate process by gathering the testator’s assets, paying the estate’s debts and distributing the remaining property to the heirs named in the will.
On occasion, the family believes that it would be helpful to family unity that the estate planning lawyer meet with the family after the testator’s death to explain why the testator came up with is particular plan. If that is your concern, that can be arranged.
If you need assistance with the probate process or wish to contest a will, consult a skilled Tampa estate administration attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.