Common Belief 1: My lawyer will have my will read aloud to my family.
This is one of the more enduring myths about Wills that owes its existence to its repeated use in movies and popular fiction. The dramatic scene where your lawyer reads the terms of your Will to your family and suddenly everybody becomes aware of your wishes is almost entirely fictitious. There is no legal requirement in any state for any such ceremony. In order to create a legally valid Will, you must create a document that complies with your state’s laws and, after you die, have the document approved by the court. However, there is no requirement for you to have anyone read your will out loud or assemble your beneficiaries in the same place at the same time.
Common Belief 2: My will can be kept in secret.
While you can make your Will and choose who receives your property, your Will becomes public as soon as it is admitted to probate court. Once this happens, anyone who wishes can inspect your Will as it will become part of the public record.
Common Belief 3: I can read my wishes aloud and make a videotaped Will.
Though you may create a videotape or other recording that accompanies your last Will and testament, the videotape itself is not a legally valid Will. No state allows you to create a videotape Will, though you can create a written Will and have it accompanied by a videotape. You may want to do this if, for example, there is some question about your mental competency or your ability to make your own choices without being unduly influenced by others. This may help establish the validity of the Will, but it is not in itself a valid Will.
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