The answer is simple:

If you are expecting that the solicitor who holds a will, must conduct a reading of the will to interested family members, the answer is “no”.

Will readings are events that occur in movies or books, but not in real life. It may be that, back in the day when literacy was not common, it was necessary that the will be read. But thankfully those days are long past and most people are able to read. But there are many other reasons why there is no need, and where it could be improper for a will-reading to be conducted by the solicitor who holds the original will.

For example, in the first instance, if the reading is conducted by a solicitor, it will not be evident who the solicitor’s clients are. It may be that the executors named in the will might engage the solicitor who held the original will to assist in the administration of the estate. In that case, it may be improper to see the beneficiaries. Read on for the explanation.

Secondly,what if all the beneficiaries are unable to attend at the time set for the will reading? Those who can attend may obtain benefits associated with the will reading that those present miss out on. That could be a breach of the solicitor’s duties to avoid preferring the interests of one beneficiary over another.

Third, if anyone present has questions about the will, the solicitor cannot give any advice about the contents of the will, it’s validity, or any other of the many matters that arise after a death.

The job of the solicitor who holds a will is to keep it safe and the contents confidential whilst ever the testator (the person who made the will) is alive. Once the solicitor is provided with reasonable advice that the person has died, the solicitor’s primary obligations are to notify the named executors of the existence of the will. Thereafter, the executors are at liberty to decide from whom they obtain legal advice regarding the administration of the estate. They are free to engage the services of an entirely different lawyer if they wish.

Further obligations contained in section 33z of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld), namely that any person who holds a will is obligated to provide a copy to an entitled person.

So, to sum up this information, it is neither necessary, not required, and nor is it obligatory, that the solicitor holding the will conduct a will-reading.

In proper circumstances, a will reading could be conducted for the benefit of the people named in the will, providing steps are taken to avoid the potential conflicts outlined above.

So, if you and your family wish to have a will reading, you should ask the solicitor who holds the will