You’re watching a movie one night with your family, after having considered writing a will. Ironically, the movie starts with a family gathering at their lawyer’s office for a will reading after a loved one has passed away. You start to wonder if this is what it is going to look like for your family, in the far future, when they find out what you left to them in your estate plan.
The truth is that this doesn’t really happen anymore. Movies still use it because it creates a dramatic scene where all of the characters are in the same place. This can help build tension, especially if there is something unexpected in the will or if someone gets cut out of the will and finds out very publicly that they’re getting nothing.
These meetings are based in reality. In modern America, most people can read, but it wasn’t always that way. When illiteracy was more of a problem, lawyers would read wills to the family because those lawyers may have been the only ones who could actually read them. Today, the lawyer will generally just mail copies of the will to each person who needs one, and they can read it on their own. This is much simpler.
It doesn’t change your focus as you do your estate planning, though. You still want to think about your family first and foremost. How will your estate impact them? What goals do you have? How can you distribute your assets to meet those goals? Be sure you look carefully into all of the options you have.