Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wills are Public Records

One of the main advantages of a Living Trust over a Will is that a Will becomes a public record when it is filed with the Probate Court. Not only is the Will a public record, but the subsequent inventory and accounting records of what a deceased person owns becomes public as well. Very astute people glean all kinds of things from these records. For example, if one wants to know about Michael Jackson's will see here. Some have likened probate proceedings as akin to leaving your checkbook in a public forum for everybody to see what you own and how you spend your money. Most clients would choose privacy over this kind of public review of their financial matters.

If one wants to maintain some degree of privacy about one's personal estate planning a Living Trust is a better way to plan. A Living Trust is a private contractual document that is only shared with the beneficiaries of the trust and the Internal Revenue Service. No one can walk into a probate court and view a Living Trust as Living Trusts avoid probate at death. Wills, on the other hand, guarantee probate.