Do executors have to give out copies of wills?

Rick asked...

Does an executor have to give out copies of a will to all beneficiaries?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Once a person dies, many executors do give out a copy of the will to all the beneficiaries named to take property in it. And some take pains to gather the beneficiaries together in a room and perform an oral reading of it. But there is no legal requirement to do either of these things.

What is legally required is that the executor must file a copy with the local probate court so that it becomes a matter of public record.

So if you are up against an executor who refuses to show a will in which you are named to take property, or you are just plain curious about what a particular one contains, a visit to the court in which the will was filed can assuage your curiosity. You will have to tell the clerk the decedent's name and approximate date of death--and may have to pay a slight fee per page if you want your own copy to have and hold.