Privacy is an important factor when planning for your estate. Many people want to keep the details of their estate plans confidential while ensuring their assets are properly distributed according to their wishes when they pass away. Privacy is a valid concern today to protect your family from scams and predators that may latch onto them if they are made aware of their inheritance.
There are a number of tools that a person can use to increase the confidentiality of their legal documents. Many people opt to use a trust in their estate plan instead of a will due to a trust’s ability to fly under the radar, so to speak. Trust documents are private and may have advantages over using a will that goes beyond providing for incapacity during the grantor’s life. A trust can help protect one’s privacy while alive and after death. This article will discuss ways to protect your privacy and keep your estate planning documents confidential and protected from prying eyes.
Probate is when a deceased individual’s assets are distributed to beneficiaries, estate disputes are brought, and creditors can make monetary claims. The process of probating a will is a very public matter due to the fact that the petition must be filed into the public record. This is the same even if there is no will, and the probate is considered intestate. Once a probate matter is filed with the local Clerk of Court, it becomes a public record forever. Someone one hundred years from now can view your records and trace who received your assets. While this may not be an issue for many people, privacy concerns are increasing, and many individuals now prefer to shield their assets from the public’s view.
Not everyone wants the general public to be able to walk into the Clerk of Court’s office and request a copy of their probate documents or simply log in and view it online. There are a number of reasons why someone would want to keep their probate information private. Still, the main reason is that many jurisdictions require probate to include a detailed descriptive list that names each asset owned by the decedent and the value of each item. A stranger can view these documents and see who inherited the decedent’s assets. This can be problematic for many people, especially those who inherit large estates. It’s possible to become targeted upon receiving a large inheritance.
Trusts are legal entities that manage assets on behalf of an individual’s beneficiaries. Trusts are private, unlike wills which must go through the probate process. This means that an individual can keep the details of their estate private and their beneficiaries confidential. The two main types of trusts are revocable and irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust can be changed during the life of the grantor and are great for people who want to retain control over their assets and have options when it comes to flexibility.
On the other hand, irrevocable trusts do not allow changes or alterations unless the grantor obtains permission from the beneficiaries. Property and assets are no longer considered part of the grantor’s estate and provide many benefits, such as tax advantages and creditor protection. Assets in trust can be shielded from legal claims, creditors, divorce settlements, and other types of liabilities. Trusts can also be established for special needs beneficiaries. Overall, trusts are a great tool that can accomplish many different goals simultaneously while remaining private, even after death.
Each type of trust has pros and cons, depending on your situation and goals. It’s important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to see which one is right for you and your family before deciding. While you may have more flexibility with a revocable trust, there are many reasons why someone would also choose to execute an irrevocable trust instead. Each situation is different, and an estate planning attorney can speak with you and answer any questions to ensure that you make the right choices regarding your estate plan.
Progeny Law Firm assists clients with estate planning in Baton Rouge, LA. Call (225) 465-1090 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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