I recently worked with a client who was very concerned about the lack of privacy with a will. After all, these documents are public record. After you pass away, anyone can technically look at a copy of that will.
This client had more assets than many people realized. They felt that their finances should be private, and they didn’t really want that information getting out. Some people don’t worry about that at all, but it is very important to others. Just knowing that the will is public makes them feel like people can see into different aspects of their life that they don’t think should be out in the open.
While I did point out that most people who are unrelated to an estate will never even think about reading a will, the client was still concerned, so we decided to talk about other options. One of them was setting up a trust.
Essentially, a trust takes your assets and distributes them, but they pass through the trust instead of directly to the beneficiaries. This gives you some extra control over those assets. For instance, if you do not want to leave money to an heir who is a minor, you can specify that they do not get anything until they turn 18 or 21 or 35 or any age you think is appropriate.
In addition to this control, though, the trust is not public. No one else can read it without authorization. It can help to hide these financial details and protect your privacy if that is something you value.
As you can see, it is very important to really understand all of your legal options. There may be more than you think.