Most people think of probate as a private process, but because wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means your nosy neighbor can simply go online (or down to the courthouse) and find out about your probate. It’s easier than you might imagine.
It’s Not Just Mr. Neighbor Who Has Access.
After death, most states require that holder of the deceased person’s will file it with the probate court, even if probate proceedings won’t happen. While Neddy Neighbor may be an annoyance and may only be driven by curiosity, others can actively make your beneficiaries’ lives miserable, such as:
- Financial predators. Financial predators look for ways to access sensitive personal information online. Since courts are part of a bureaucratic process that often moves very slowly, months can elapse before you (or the court) realize that your beneficiaries have been swindled.
- Charities. Well-meaning charities can become an annoyance when money appears to be up for grabs. This is especially true in estate situations when inheritors want to do good deeds or honor their loved ones.
- Will challengers. Since a will that is filed with the probate court becomes a public record, those believing they have an interest (right or wrong) can access and challenge the will. This can incur added costs and time defending the will from what could ultimately be a frivolous claim.
Avoid the Nosy Neighbor Factor with a Trust
Trusts qre never filed with a court, either during your life or after your death. Probate courts do not supervise your trust administration. So, you can avoid busybodies and predators by creating a trust. This is the best way to keep your legal affairs private.
Contact us today and let us help you create a trust to avoid probate and keep your family and financial affairs within the family. We can speak with you via telephone or through video conferencing if you prefer.