For almost 28 years as a practicing attorney, I have been asked many times by a family member of a decedent or a beneficiary of a Will, the following question: “When will the Family meet for the reading of the Will?” After I answer the question that there is no legal requirement that a Last Will & Testament be read out loud to anyone, I usually see a dumbfounded look on the face of the person asking the question or there is simply a deafening silence.
The general misperception that a Will must be read aloud after the death of a Testator (maker of the Will) has been perpetuated by television and the movies. Check out how the ABC drama, Dynasty, used the dramatic technique to create (over the top) tension in a storyline.
Instead of a Meeting to read the will, the law only requires that certain individuals be notified of the Admission of a Will to Probate. The Ohio Revised Code in Section 2107.19 (A) outlines the parties entitled to receive notice of the admission of the will to the Probate Court. These include the surviving spouse of the decedent, parties named in the will and all persons who would be entitled to inherit from the maker of the will (Testator) under Ohio Revised Code Section 2105, if the Testator had died intestate. The law does not even require that a copy of the will be sent with the notice. However, it is a good practice to provide a copy.
Finally, ORC Section 2107.19 (A)(2) provides that a person entitled to notice, may waive the right to notice by filing a written waiver with the Probate Court. It may be filed at any time prior to or after the Will has been admitted to Probate.