In today’s ever more technological world, privacy is becoming more vital to everyone. In this article I will go through the most common estate planning tools and discuss the privacy implications of each document
There are two foundational documents that are effective during your lifetime. These are the General Durable Power of Attorney and the Health Care Power of Attorney. Both of these documents will allow the individual you name to step into your shoes and make medical and financial decisions for you. As such these documents will need to be presented by your agent when acting on your behalf.
Your Will is a completely private document while you are living. During your lifetime you are under no obligation to share the contents of your will with anyone else. There may be benefits to letting your potential executor know where your will is located but you under no obligation to do so. During your lifetime you are free to share as much or as little information regarding this document to anyone.
This all changes though upon your passing. When you pass, your Last Will and Testament will need to be probated at the Clerk of Court’s office. This process will require your executor to submit an application and the original Last Will and Testament to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk will then open up a probate file for your estate. This file is completely public. Anyone can request to see these records and view all the provisions of your will. Additionally, every asset that is in your estate will be inventoried by your executor. This list of assets will also be public record in your estate file. Once you pass there is no privacy in regards to the terms of your Last Will and Testament and the assets that you have in your estate.
There is a way to keep your assets and wishes private, however. This is through the use of a Trust. A trust is a completely private document. A trust does not need to be probated at the clerk of Court’s office and no public file will be created. Every asset that you transfer into the name of the Trust will be private and the outside world will be unable to view the assets of the trust as a matter of public information.
By taking the correct steps now you can ensure that your wishes and assets are private. This can take a burden from your loved ones and give you peace of mind. At McIntyre Elder Law we can assist you to craft a custom tailored estate plan to fit your unique situation. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Attorney at Law