Is your will going on the public record?

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Drafting a will is a very private event for most people. Some are even unwilling to talk about it with family members in advance.

After that person passes away, though, how many people will find out what is in the document? Is it going to end up on the public record?

In most cases, it will. This happens when it officially gets filed in court to start the probate process. Anyone who wants to access these records has the right to do so. This allows people who may have been cut out of the will and who never got a copy directly to challenge that will if they so choose.

Of course, the beneficiaries themselves will get copies of the will. The same is true for others who are involved with the estate, such as a trustee.

It is possible for the beneficiaries to ask the judge to keep the general public from reading a will by sealing the document. This is not something that is often done for just anyone, though. Rare situations in which records do get sealed are when the person is notorious for some reason — a criminal, a notable billionaire or a celebrity, for instance.

That is not to say others cannot make the request. They just need to know that most courts will deny that request and release the will into the public record unless there is a distinct reason why sealing it makes sense.

The execution of a will can be a bit more complicated than people realize. They need to make sure they know exactly what legal steps to take.

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