A Living Trust Provides Privacy

A Living Trust Provides Privacy

– Authored by: Collin D. Dickey

In Michigan, when a Will is “probated,” it becomes public record in the county that an individual resides when he or she passes away.  When this happens, anyone, from a family member to a stranger, may have access to a deceased individual’s Will.

We have all heard at least one story about a celebrity, such as the late performer Prince, or some public figure who has passed away without any Estate Planning, leaving information about his or her estate assets available to the public.  Not only does the public nature of a Will put a family’s personal information out in the open, it can also sometimes lead to situations where angry or upset heirs are more inclined to contest a probated Will or raise other challenges throughout the probate process.  This, of course, causes additional delays and associated expenses for the parties involved.

In contrast to the public nature of a Will, a Living Trust does not have to be filed with a court and, thus, it is not used to create a public record after you pass away.  The Living Trust remains private for the most part.  It allows your assets to be transferred to the designated beneficiaries, according to your instructions in the Trust document and without the need for the probate court’s involvement.   This type of privacy may reduce non-beneficiary, interested parties from interfering in the distribution of your assets, hopefully saving time and money for all parties involved.  The privacy of a Living Trust is an often-overlooked benefit of Trust Planning, and has proven to be valuable to those individuals concerned with maintaining the privacy of their assets and wishes.

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