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Explaining who can see a will after a testator dies

Have you ever wondered what happens when the testator of a will dies?

First off, who is a testator? A testator is the person who creates a will. Unlike what happens on television and in the movies, there is no official reading of a testator's will after he or she dies. So, let's take a look at what actually happens after a testator dies so you can prepare for what's next.

The most important person to have possession of the will is the executor. In some families, this could be a spouse, an adult child, a cousin, an aunt or uncle and any other person the testator chose. There are circumstances where the testator might have chosen a close friend, neighbor or someone else outside of the family as the executor.

Every single person named as a beneficiary in a will has the right to receive a copy of the will. No one can prevent this from happening, not even the testator's surviving spouse. Should a beneficiary be a minor, his or her guardian will receive the copy of the will.

Heirs-at-law are people who might be beneficiaries of the testator but might not be named in the will. If the estate attorney believes that there will be a challenge to the will, he or she will likely send copies of the document to the heirs-at-law.

The estate will be assigned an accountant. The accountant is allowed to see a copy of the will in order to help make sure the assets are handled correctly. The accountant needs to have an understanding of how the assets are to be distributed and how the debts of the estate are to be paid.

Make sure you understand what will happen when the testator of a will dies so you are prepared for a phone call or to receive a copy of the will in the mail. If you experience problems after a loved one dies with his or her executor, an attorney may be able to assist you.

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