This is really a trick question - while you've probably watched in the movies or read in a book about "the reading of a Will," this is purely a fictional device used to create drama and tension within the story being told. In reality, today there's no legal requirement that the estate attorney has to read the Last Will and Testament out loud to anyone - I've never done it and I've never witnessed any other attorneys doing it. Instead, the estate attorney must decide who is entitled to receive a copy of the Will so that they can read it themselves.
The first people that logically come to mind are the Personal Representative and beneficiaries named in the Will. Of course they're entitled to receive a copy of the Will. Not so obvious is the accountant for the estate - the accountant needs to read and understand what the Will provides with regard to the payment of claims filed against the estate as well as the payment of estate and income taxes.
The estate attorney must also be wary of a disinherited heir at law or a disinherited beneficiary named in a prior Will challenging the validity of the current Will. If the attorney believes that a will contest is going to be filed, then the attorney can send a copy of the current Will to the disinherited heirs at law or to the disinherited beneficiaries named in the prior Will in order to limit their time frame for filing a will contest.
Of course, once a Last Will and Testament has been admitted to probate, it becomes a public record for anyone to see and read. In certain circumstances the beneficiaries of the Will can ask the probate judge to seal the court records to prevent the public from reading the Will and other probate documents, but the judge will grant this request only in rare situations.Further Reading
- What is a Last Will and Testament?
- What is a Personal Representative?
- What is a Probate Judge and What Does a Probate Judge Do?
- Who Gets a Copy of a Will After the Testator Dies?