Details that TV and Movies Get Wrong

Gathering for the Reading of a Will

In movies and television shows, there is often a dramatic scene where family members gather in a lawyer’s office for the reading of the will, eagerly waiting to find out who gets what.

In reality, there is no gathering, and the process is more private. Some families may have realistic expectations about the terms of the will based on prior family conversations and will not be blindsided. Other families may find out the details of the will after it is filed with the probate court and may be angered, hurt, or bewildered when they learn what is in it (or not in it) for them.

The Truth About Writing a Will

People think that it is easy to write or change a will. Some movies or television shows imply that all you have to do is write something down and put it into an envelope for safekeeping. In the real world, a will that is not created properly may be considered invalid. 

Immediate Access to your Inheritance

In movies and on television, beneficiaries often receive their inheritances immediately after the death of a loved one, allowing family members to access their newfound wealth right away.

The distribution of money and property according to a will is a legal process that involves probate, unless a trust controls the distribution of the inheritance. Probate is the court-supervised process of validating the will, paying off debts, and distributing money and property. This process can be lengthy, especially if there are disputes or complications.  It could be months or even years before Junior buys his new fancy car.

Arguing Before a Judge

When the expectations of family and loved ones are shattered in a movie or television show, everyone immediately considers contesting the will. Movies often depict legal matters, including estate planning, as requiring an appearance before a judge; cases are argued in a courtroom and include cross-examinations and emotional accusations. 

Some movies and television shows correctly explain that contesting a will does require proving the case in court and it may not always be easy, but it will be expensive!

Real-Life Probate and Trust Administration

Although television and movies are entertaining with their conflicts and cliffhangers, Real-life estate administration is less dramatic than Hollywood would have you believe. An experienced Estate Plan Attorney can help you craft a customized plan that addresses your goals and wishes and provides an uneventful administration at your death. to ensure that your wishes are carried out without the TV drama!

Get The Ultimate Life Organizer

There's a lot to think about when you're collecting information for your estate plan. Download our free 17 page Complete Life Organizer and make sure you have everything covered!