How Creating a Trust-Based Estate Plan Will Give You More Privacy

More people than ever are using trust-based estate plans. Creating a trust instead of a will-based plan can be beneficial for several reasons. When you have a trust-based estate plan, your beneficiaries will not have to go through the probate court process to obtain your assets. As the creator of your trust, you are in charge of how your assets will transfer to your beneficiaries.

In addition to avoiding the probate process, creating a trust-based estate plan will provide you with more privacy. Today, more personal information is available to the public than ever through the internet. Simple online searches can allow strangers to find out personal details in a matter of minutes. Many people create trust-based estate plans to protect their private information and avoid the public probate process.

The Probate Process is Public

One of the biggest complaints about the probate process in North Carolina is that it involves going to court. A judge will preside over the process and appoint an executor for your estate. Creditors will be able to make claims against your estate, and interested parties have a right to challenge your will. The probate process takes place in a North Carolina court, and the court will be able to discover the details of your will and your estate. All of this information will become part of the official court record.

These court records are available to anyone who may want to look up your estate. In some cases, records may include a list of all of your assets and their associated values. They could also include the identities of the beneficiaries who will inherit from you and your creditors. The process of settling conflicts and transferring assets to beneficiaries also happens in court and can become public information.

Protect Your Privacy by Creating a Trust-Based Estate Plan

A living trust can protect your privacy. If you have a high-profile job or simply do not want strangers to become aware of your estate information, you can protect yourself by setting up a trust. When your loved ones go through the probate process, there is always the potential that someone will challenge your last will and testament.

In the late Aretha Franklin’s case, the dispute over whether her handwritten will was valid has become public. Her family members, including her four sons, are now involved in a public dispute over who is competent to act as the estate executor and who will inherit her estate, likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This case demonstrates how family disputes involving probate matters can become public spectacles.

You do not need to be a world-famous entertainer to consider creating a trust-based estate plan to protect your privacy. Politicians, law enforcement officers, school board members, or any other type of public figure should consider protecting their legacy by creating a trust-based estate plan. The probate process could lead to an embarrassing situation or even put your family's security at risk.

Creating a Trust Creates an Extra Layer of Security

It is impossible to completely protect your information, but you can add an extra layer of protection by creating a trust-based estate plan. When a trust owns your real estate investments and other assets, people will not be able to search your name and discover what assets you own. Instead, the trust will be listed on the property’s title, and your trustee’s name will be associated with it. You can appoint a friend or relative to act as your trustee or appoint a lawyer or a professional organization if you would like more privacy.

In some cases, business people may not want their associates to know they own property. When people are involved in complicated family relationships, they may want to keep their property ownership private. This extra layer of protection helps people rest assured that their assets will remain private. When you create a trust, you can also require your trustees to sign confidentiality agreements.

Contact a Charlotte Estate Planning Lawyer Today

If you are interested in creating a trust-based estate plan or modifying your current estate plan, Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we can help you protect your private information and your assets.