One of the many advantages of working with an attorney to create a thorough estate plan is that you can take steps to keep it private. Many people don’t realize that if they have only a will in place, that will must go through a probate court in order for the instructions in it to be carried out. That makes it a public court record.
Most people won’t have TMZ or even local news outlets sifting through their probate file for juicy tidbits about their assets. However, family members whom you’ve chosen not to leave anything to, business associates and others can find out what’s in your estate. Your heirs’ and executor’s names and addresses will also be part of the public record.
One way to keep your estate private is to use a revocable living trust. Here in Tennessee, revocable living trusts are among the assets that pass directly to the designated heirs or co-owners without going through probate.
You can place your assets like your home, bank and other types of accounts and more in a revocable living trust and maintain control over them as the trustee while you’re alive. You will also designate an administrative trustee to distribute the funds in the trust as you’ve designated once you’re gone. You may name that person or someone else as a disability trustee to handle the trust if you should become incapacitated to the point where you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.
Your Tennessee estate planning attorney can provide more detail on how a revocable living trust works and help you set one up if you determine that it fits with your estate planning goals for yourself and your family.