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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

Why wills are available to the public

A will becomes a matter of public record after its creator passes away. The state court conducting the probate process does this by filing the document once it has been finalized.

This may feel a little concerning to some given the personal details a will holds. But, there are a few good reasons for making the matter public.

Notify debtors

Part of the reason a will is made public is so that those who are owed a debt by the person that passed away can make a claim before inheritance is paid out. Typically, all debtors should be paid off with the estate before beneficiaries receive their shares. However, in some cases, a surviving spouse may inherit medical debts.

Expose injustices

Another reason why wills are made public is to protect the testator’s family. Someone who was close to the testator may challenge a will if they do not believe it is legitimate. This might happen in a circumstance where the testator was coerced into giving away assets or unaware of their actions.

Some family members may even fight the testator’s wishes outlined in a will if they believed the testator lacked the capacity to make proper estate planning decisions.

Keep a will private

However, there are some select circumstances in which a probate judge would grant a request to keep a will private from the general public. This is typically done for security reasons if the testator was very prominent in the public eye, celebrity or wealthy.

Protect your assets

In some cases, you may want to specify certain private information in your will, such as passwords to online accounts. By working with an experienced lawyer you can arrange a way to make sure your assets are secured after your will becomes available to the public.


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