Now, more than ever, families are valuing their privacy. It’s not surprising given the amount of fraud, scammers, spammers, and others out there trying to use the personal information of others to gain some benefit for themselves. What does surprise many families is that just having an estate plan may not be enough to keep your personal affairs from the prying eyes of those who would use it for their own benefit. I’ve heard the surprise in the voices of many families I’ve met with . . . so many in fact, that I wrote this previous blog post about privacy in your estate plan.
And sure enough, within a couple weeks of writing that post there was a very public example of the lack of privacy with some estate plans. It turns out that Joe Paterno’s family was trying to keep his will from being part of the public probate court record after his passing. But, as you can see from reading this Forbes.com article, they were unsuccessful. Why? Because a will must be filed as part of the probate court process. As Ms. Jacobs, the article’s author, points out, typically the best way to avoid this is with a living trust. And I’ll add my own comment that just having a trust is not enough. It must be a fully “funded” trust. Read this previous post to find out why that is critical to avoiding the public probate process.
Call us at 616-827-7596 to schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session to help make sure that your family’s legacy will be kept among your family, not shared with everyone via a public probate court filing.
Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™. This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning. He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their families values, insights, stories and experiences.