Picture it: In classic black-and-white movies, including some of the later popular Hammer-era horror movies from the late-60's to early '70's and other genre movies that date much earlier, there are usually scenes of a formal reading of a will. All the relatives are gathered around anxiously with bated breath. In those movies, family members in a shadowy office or in the parlour of some palatial, european countryside estate, listen intently to the estate's attorney as he reads aloud the Last Will & Testament of the deceased. In truth, a reading of the will rarely happens in real life these days, and only actually took place many years ago on occasion.
The simple truth is that will readings are not legally required in any state. In reality, it is difficult to find more than a few examples in the past century of a formal will reading actually taking place. As an easy example, history tells us that in ancient times Julius Caesar's will was read aloud. This appears to have been done for more of a political reason than for any true legal purpose.
So Why Aren't Readings Of The Will More Commonly Done In Real Life? Movie scenes showing a small-scale public reading of a will are certainly dramatic and may help to advance the plot forward. But there are good reasons why such readings like this should not actually occur in our everyday life!
For one thing, a reading of a Will can be awkward and potentially be very embarrassing to those who discover on the spot that they may have been disinherited or those who received far less than they might have been expecting. That type of discovery would be uncomfortable, to say the least.
Naturally, movies often play up this fact for the purpose of entertainment. Those scenes of formal will-readings in these movies are particularly dramatic because, quite often, those who most expected to receive sizable bequests or property or assets typically received nothing, and those who expected nothing quite often received the bulk of the estate!
Another reason against doing a formal will-reading in that type of scenario is that, in real life, wills are typically filled with language that most laymen will find unclear and would require informed and careful explanation. That is not to say that readings of a Will never occur in these modern times, but they are the exception, not the rule!