I currently keep a personal journal. I want to make arrangements to ensure that the journal will be destroyed upon my death and that no one, not even my family members and not even the executor of my will, will ever read the journal. If I put a provision stating this in my will, will the provision be legally and practically enforceable? I am concerned that the executor, who would probably be a family member, might be overcome by curiosity and might peek inside the journal before destroying it, even if my will states otherwise. If I keep a paper journal in a bank safe deposit box, can I give the bank binding instructions to destroy the journal unread upon my death? Alternatively, are there journal-hosting websites that specialize in destroying journals upon the authors' deaths? I am a healthy young adult who hopefully will live many years, but I nonetheless want to be prepared.
You have summed up a very real dilemma between the law and human nature. It would be a very special family member or friend who could resist the temptation not to read your journal. Your best bet may be special instructions to a bank or other disinterested third party. You may also will it to a university or historical society with instructions that it not be read for one hundred years.
The law respects the testator 's wishes. Of course, you do not trust the exutrix of the will. I guess, you would like to keep the diary for own review. It is tough one. You are young and change your mind later. Good luck.
I was once asked by a client, how could she safely enter into a business with three felons, the answer of course is you can't. The same is true of the journal if you are going to let someone other than yourself handle it, it is going to get read. Samuel Pepys managed to protect his ten-year diary for two hundred years by writing it in a sort of code. That may work for you. the other choice you have is to destroy it yourself if you are diagnosed with a terminal disease, dementia, or a disabling disease.
You should also consider is this to protect you from embarrassment, what difference does that make if you are dead? Or is this going to harm other people? In that case it would make sense to destroy it now or accept that it will do some harm.
Every thing that I am saying here is my opinion and it is not based on any particular case. My response is just unsupported general information. If it helps you to resolve an issue that's great but do not rely on it as legal advice because it is not based on the facts in your case and it is not based on any specific legal research. Answering this question creates no relationship between the writer and reader of the writing. I am not your attorney now, nor have I been on the past. If you just want to comment please do that on AVVO where the price is $0.00. I do typically respond to all AVVO comments.
Have you considered keeping a journal or blog online under a pseudonym? Don't keep your username or password anywhere and keep the existence of the journal private and it's very likely no one would know your journal existed at the time of your death.
This answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
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