View Full Version : Reading of a will and life insurance

03-12-2008, 03:57 AM
What exactly happens at the reading of a will?

- Who is present?
- What does the lawyer say or how does he say it? Is it very legal or more relaxed?
- Does he read something directly written by the deceased?

Also, if the person who died had a will and life insurance are these both done at the same time?

I want my character to get stocks from the will and her step mother to get the house. But I also want the step mother to get a big life insurance check. Can this be done at the reading of the will?


Cathy C
03-12-2008, 04:14 AM
Here's a link (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=435679&highlight=conference+room#post435679)to a post where I answered this same question a long time ago. Let me know if you need clarification on any points. :)

ETA: As to your specific questions: No. Nobody would walk out of the room with anything of value. There's a procedure involved and it's generally through the court. Life insurance can take from 1-6 months after the Personal Representative sends the Letters (read the thread I linked for the terminology definitions.) Same with stocks. Nobody would leave with anything other than a photocopy of the will, since it would have to be run through probate and, at the very least, published in the newspaper to be sure there were no unknown creditors who might get a piece of the pie.

Does that help?

03-12-2008, 04:22 AM
Thank you!

Cathy C
03-12-2008, 04:26 AM
Bumping since I think we cross-posted. Look at my edits as to your specific questions. :)

03-12-2008, 04:33 AM
When my best friend's husband died 2-3 years ago, he died without a will, so she got everything, so that doesn't help you.

However, the life insurance deals was handled totally without anyone else. He had 2 policies, one through work and one independent. His HR manager sent her paperwork for that policy, which she filled out and sent back, along with a copy of the death certificate. (Get a LOT of those, FWIW--she had 10 and sometimes it was barely enough). The other policy was through their bank, so she went down to the branch with a copy of his death certificate, filled out papers and waited.

The bank policy check came about 6 weeks after filing (the minimum she was told to expect) because his death was clear-cut and uncontested cause. The work check came in the next week, IIRC.

They're totally different matters and no lawyers are involved that I can tell. Benefactors of insurance policies usually know who they are and they're the ones who have to go down and file the papers.

Hope that helps.

03-12-2008, 05:05 AM
In New Hampshire, we mail a copy of the will and some other probate documents to each named heir. No reading, nothing like that. I'm not sure that a reading is done anymore in any state, but you should check with the state in which your story is based.

That being said, either the deceased, the executor, or the attorney could request a reading. The question would be why.

Wills can be as specific or as general as the testator wants. It wouldn't be a problem for one person to get the stocks and a different one to get the house.

Life insurance depends on how it was set up. It can be payable to a named beneficiary or it can be payable to the estate, in which case the will controls.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Appalachian Writer
03-12-2008, 05:39 AM
In my experience, the funeral director fills out some kind of form and sends it to the insurance company and then the insurance company mails the benficiary their check, or in the case of insurance through work, the human resources department does most of the work, and then, again, the check is mailed to the beneficiary. As for the reading of the will, all named beneficiaries show up in the lawyers office, they make a little small talk, and then the lawyer reads. Sometimes, if it is directed by the writer of the will, a direct communication from the deceased might be read, but that's unusual. See Cathy's post. It contains just about all there is when it comes to wills.

03-12-2008, 03:50 PM
In my personal experience with the deaths and estates of my two grandmothers, a call to the life insurance company notifying them of the death was all that was required; any payments followed later, either to the funeral home or to the beneficiaries.

One grandmother did not have a will; she had set up everything as belonging jointy to her and her surviving children so at her death, everything transferred to them without need for a will or probate. There were a few paperwork technicalities but very small.

My other grandmother did have a will; the family had copies and for the formal reading, those involved gathered at her lawyer's office where the will was read. Very informal.