How Estate Planning Can Provide Privacy

How Estate Planning Can Provide Privacy

  • January 6, 2022

People are often concerned about keeping information about their finances private, but did you know that the way your Estate Plan is created could impact the privacy of you and your loved one’s privacy? Justin Randall spoke with Local 5 Live to discuss privacy and your estate plan.

Lisa Malak: Well, people are often concerned about keeping information about their finances private. But did you know that the way your estate plan is created can put your privacy at risk?

Millaine Wells: Attorney, Justin Randall is joining us from Hooper Law Office to explore this important topic. Good morning to you.

Justin Randall: Good morning.

Millaine Wells: So, there can be a lot of confusion with estate plans in regards to what information can be kept private while will be public. Can you give us some clarification on this?

Justin Randall: Yeah, so when we're talking about private or public information with the estate planning, really, the big distinction between when something would be public or private is whether or not somebody is potentially going through probate or not. So, one of the most common misconceptions with wills is that they'll avoid probate. But really what they are is instructions to the probate court of how you want your assets divided, and who you want in charge of the estate. So, if you're going through probate, it's possible that the contents of the will itself will become public record, you know who the beneficiaries are, who that personal representative is, and that can be really concerning to a lot of people. So, if they're looking to keep things private, there are alternatives to do that. But it usually involves a little bit different planning. 

Lisa Malak: So what information is available when a person is planning with a well? 

Justin Randall: Yeah, so I mean, it can be the beneficiaries, who those beneficiaries are, you know, because they can see the will itself. So, if they're able to see the will, they're able to see, maybe what percentage of the estate that beneficiary is getting, who those beneficiaries are, and maybe you know, how they're inheriting, whether they're inheriting with any sort of restrictions or if it's kind of fair game for them to use the assets however they want once they inherit it. And that can be really concerning, in particular, for people who have not minor children so much, but young adult children who are inheriting one of the big concerns is we want to prevent someone from taking advantage of somebody who maybe doesn't have as much like investment experience themselves.

Millaine Wells: So what information is available if you have one of those trust-based plans?


Justin Randall: So, one of the best things about trust, when it comes to privacy is that it is not publicly available during someone's lifetime or after they pass away because there's no, you don't have to submit it to the probate process. The trust-based plans as long as there the trust are funded properly, will help that individual's estate, avoid probate. One of the other benefits of privacy with a Trust is that the beneficiaries themselves can be limited to what they themselves know about it. So, what I mean by that is, you might not want all of the other beneficiaries to know exactly what everyone else is getting too, to avoid conflict. And so, they can be limited to just knowing what they themselves are getting.

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