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Is a will typically read before or after the funeral service, and does a beneficiary have a right to read the will beforehand?

Alexandria, VA |


Attorney Answers 2


There is no specific rule about when the Will is read. If the Will can be available before the funeral, it is often reviewed by either family in possession of it, or the executor, to determine if the decedent included burial or funeral instructions in the Will, as well as to identify nominated guardians for minor children if applicable. The formal analysis of the estate plan, and determining what needs to be accomplished and by who, is more often deferred until after the funeral services have been completed in order to permit the family time to regain their bearings and get through the most difficult portion of the grief process. It is not uncommong for several weeks to pass before this analysis takes place, however people with access to the Will often review it earlier out of curiosity. Seldom does formal work need to be done with the Will earlier than that.

The beneficiary generally has no formal right to read the Will before anyone else. The person in possession of the Will holds it as a custodian on behalf of the estate until it is provided to the Executor for submission to the Court for probate. In most states, the beneficiary has a right to request a copy of the Will from the executor, and to review it when filed as well.


Atty. Coulter is licensed to practice law in Pensylvania with offices in Monroeville, PA and Wexford/Sewickly, PA. His phone number is 412-253-PLAN and his email address is
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There is no rule about reading a will to the family or a beneficiary. There is no right to read it. That said, if someone is holding a will, they can be made to produce it. Finally, if someone records the will and begins to probate the estate, every beneficiary is required to be given notice of the appointment. At that point, a beneficiary may request a copy of the will from the executor.

Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only. This answer does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on. Legal advice can only be provided after consultation with an attorney with experience in the area in which your concern lies. This is so because each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and/or documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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