Estate Planning with Privacy in Mind

  • Robert S. Thomas,
  •   Estate Planning
  •   Comments Off on Estate Planning with Privacy in Mind

In spite of this age of social media, we still take great effort to protect our personal privacy. Most of us don’t want everyone to know how much we make and how much we own. In addition, we go to great lengths to protect ourselves from identity theft and people who seek to rip us off.

It may surprise you to know that there is generally not a lot of privacy in death. This is because to probate an estate, a decedent’s will is filed with the clerk in the county where she or he resided. This becomes a document that the public can access. Further, probate proceedings are public, which means the details of a decedent’s property, the value of that property, to whom they owed money, and exactly who is designated to receive the property is all out in the open.

This means that a nosy neighbor, someone who does not like you, local media members, and even identity thieves can look at your will to figure out what you owned. Worse, they can see who is inheriting your property and what they are getting. This puts a bulls-eye on your loved ones by people who could seek to defraud or take advantage of them.

A Trust Can Establish Privacy

The desire for privacy is one of the reasons that some people choose to establish a trust. There are numerous types of trusts that each serves different purposes, including revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, living trusts, and testamentary trusts. The underlying idea of a trust is that a person transfers (or arranges the future transfer of) title of their property into a legal instrument controlled by a trustee and which benefits a beneficiary.

In contrast to a will, a trust document is private. This means that snooping eyes do not get the chance to publicly access the document and only specific individuals and institutions are entitled to know the assets in trust and the terms of the trust. Further, a trust allows your estate to bypass probate. Not all trusts are the same, however, and it is critical that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney to properly establish a trust that fits your needs.

The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas

Estate planning can help you protect the privacy of your loved ones. There are, however, plethora of complex options that each have their own benefits and shortcomings. Let me help you. I have practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, and taxation for over two decades and have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation. I can guide you through this highly technical and sometimes confusing process and provide you with smart, relevan legal guidance. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 for a consultation or visit our website today.

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