Initially, only you, your trustee, and your attorney will see your will and trust. Naturally, most people do not want to share copies of their will and trust with their family, as it can lead to conflict. On the other hand, it could help reinforce your intentions while informing beneficiaries of their responsibilities.
Who can access your will before and after you pass?
You are under no obligation to divulge your will to anyone while you are still alive unless you choose to. The only exception is when a judge determines you lack the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself and appoints a guardian or the agent named in your durable power of attorney.
Without access, your beneficiaries can only see your will after you pass, before the executor initiates the probate process. Your heirs will be given the option to accept or reject the inheritances or to challenge your will. Once your will has been presented to the court for probate, it becomes public.
What if you do not want to share copies of your will?
Your family dynamics will determine who, if anybody, you should give copies of your trust to. Many people have no confidence in their families to respect their wishes or avoid disputes. Think carefully about the potential consequences before revealing this information.
If you do not want to distribute copies of your will, it is recommended that you at least inform your beneficiaries where the originals are kept. If your will cannot be found or no copies can be presented during probate, the court may declare that you died intestate, in which case whatever arrangements you made are null and void.
People usually store the original documents in a safe place, such as a bank or a vault, or with their lawyer. You should tell at least one person, ideally your personal representative, where your will is kept in case of an emergency.
A will affects more than simply the person writing it. It is important to consider how it will affect your beneficiaries, your chosen personal representative, and anyone else with a stake in your estate. To safeguard your assets, familiarizing yourself with the best practices on wills and trusts is critical.