Thanks to the millions of movies that have been made over the years about the legal process and the law profession in general, there have been a lot of questions created about the process of creating a will. When people see wills either made or administered in the movies, it can look like Hollywood made up some of the process. To help out the people who have never dealt with a real will before and only have information from fictional Hollywood movies, we offer some quick answers to questions regarding wills.
In the movies, there is always an administrator of a will named who winds up going off on some wild adventure. While the wild adventure part is Hollywood fiction, the need to name an administrator is very real.
When your will goes through probate, the courts will want an administrator to contact to get information or make decisions. If you do not name an administrator, then the courts will do it for you. It is best to name your own.
If there is one thing about wills that Hollywood actually gets right, it is the reading of wills and the distribution of property. Will readings are not nearly as dramatic as they appear to be in the movies, but there is usually a gathering of family members who are informed as to what parts of the estate were left to them by the deceased. So, yes, you can leave your entire stamp collection to your little sister in your will, just like you saw in the movies.
The idea that a large estate will change hands from the deceased to a designated heir is exactly what wills are designed to do. So, yes, wills can make someone a wealthy person in a short period of time. However, before anyone gets any inheritance from a will, the estate of the deceased must first satisfy its debts. If Uncle Henry died owing more money than he had, then no one is going to get a piece of his fortune. Anyone who is expecting an inheritance from a will may want to wait until probate is done before buying their mansion.
There are plenty of movies that have the outcomes of wills challenged in court, and you even see real life stories of celebrity families that challenge wills in court as well. Even if a will seems to have everything in order and there does not seem to be anything left out, it is still possible for someone to challenge the will and try to get a piece of the estate. It does not happen as much as it seems to happen in the movies, but any will can be challenged and no will is considered completed until the courts say so.
When a will is presented in a Hollywood movie, it is usually surrounded with intrigue and adventure. In real life, wills are processed pretty much just like what you see in your average Hollywood movie. The difference is in real life there are no special effects, no really cool stunts, and there is no sound track that warns you when the big decision is finally going to be revealed.