A news report ran not too long ago covering a story of burglars robbing deceased person's estates during their funerals. The burglars found out when the funeral would take place by reading the obituary in the newspaper to find the time and date of the funeral service then going to the house when they knew nobody would be home. It's scary to think that such a simple public disclosure could leave such a big window to people with bad intentions. Yet, when a person's estate goes through probate there is much more information disclosed which becomes part of the public record for anyone to look up or see.
People follow news reports all the time about what is happening with a celebrity's estate and who is going to get their fortune. Most of the time the only reason word gets around so much about it is because they didn't plan properly beforehand and left their estate to be probated, where even the worst paparrazzi could get access to it. Take on the other hand the example of Steve Jobs. While he had millions, his estate wasn't dramatized because for a long time nobody even knew what was in it, besides the trustees of his trust plans. He did it the right way.
While most of us will never have billions to worry about people goggling at in the National Enquirer if our estate is probated, probate also tends to bring out the worst in families. When intentions are not made crystal clear, oftentimes families can get into fights over inheritances, both minor and major. That all becomes public as well. So does any estate taxes due or owing, what tangible property was received by who, and so forth. Which is also why some of these loan companies or marketing companies can conveniently call you offering some great deal, since your name showed up on a prospect list somewhere made up of people who just received inheritances.
Finally, the last thing you want in a probate is for the will to be contested. If that happens, you can rest assurred that costs, delays, and stress will triple. Yet in probate when everything becomes public, all of a sudden your long lost great nephews show up to pay their regards and claim their "piece of the pie." With proper planning your estate doesn't need to go through probate at all.
Trust plans that are set up properly pass everything outside of probate avoiding the delays and costs. They are harder to contest and generally don't need to disclose anything that was in the estate, how it was distributed, or what happened during administration. In many states you don't even have to disclose or register that there even was a trust in place. So, if privacy for your estate or your family is important to you- probate is definately not the way to go; trust planning is a much better alternative.
If you would like to make sure your estate avoids the public's eye, contact Alder & Robb, PC for a free consultation at (801) 463-2600.
"Let Us Earn Your Family's Trust"