It is understandable that some members of the LGBT community may be concerned about their privacy, when it comes to their estates and to whom they choose to leave their possessions. Actually, privacy is a common concern for the majority of clients, regardless of their sexual orientation. The good news is, you have many different options for creating an estate plan, which allows you to customize that plan so that your assets and your beneficiaries will remain as private as you want them to. Instead of creating a simple will, which becomes public record during the probate process, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that allows you to keep your estate away from prying eyes.
Probate is a public proceeding
One of the disadvantages of having only a will, is that your estate will be probated, which is a completely public process. The will itself will be filed with the local probate court, which makes it a public record. In order for wills to be legally enforced, they must go through the court system. All of the details of your will, including the identity of your beneficiaries and the nature of your assets and debts, will become common knowledge. In fact, anyone can request to see a copy of your will from the probate court and receive a copy, as well.
Revocable living trusts provide needed privacy
Estate plans that include revocable living trusts have many benefits. One of those benefits is the amount of privacy it can provide. A revocable living trust is a private contract between the client and the chosen trustee. Since it is a living trust, the client is able to maintain authority over the trust during his or her lifetime. This includes the authority to make all decisions regarding investment and financial management. Then, if the client becomes mentally incapacitated or dies, the trustee takes over the management of the trust. The trustee becomes the decision maker, but has to follow the terms of the trust agreement, with regard to how your assets should be distributed.
How can a revocable trust stay private?
The difference between a will and a living trust is court involvement. A trust does not have to be filed in court, like a will does. Also, the terms of your trust will be fulfilled immediately upon your death or incapacity. There is no need for a lengthy court process. Essentially, it is the probate process that makes your estate plan open to the public. With a living trust, only your trustee will have knowledge of its terms. If you have questions regarding private estate planning, or any other LGBT estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.