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How Important is Your Privacy??

A little-known fact is that a Will becomes public record when someone dies and its filed with the court. Anyone can look it up. Seriously. Try it. You can go and pull up Babe Ruth’s Will if you know where to look. Perhaps this is how after his death there was a rise of fake Babe Ruth Memorabilia because people were able to look up the Will he signed and copy the signature and produce fake autographed memorabilia. Or so the urban legend goes.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that a Will becomes public record, and anyone can look it up. They can see who you decided to leave your property to, and anyone you decide to disinherit. Now when some people make the tough decision to disinherit someone they usually don’t want to broadcast that to the world.

Additionally, whenever a Will gets probated, an inventory of the estate assets is often required. That means that whatever property the decedent owned when he died becomes public knowledge and is out there for the whole world to see.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to having your post death business being broadcasted to the world. And that starts with creating and funding a living trust during your lifetime. A trust is run by a Trustee who is responsible with administering and distributing assets transferred into the trust. It is also a private document only to be shared with the trustee and the trust beneficiaries. So whatever assets are held in the trust and whatever distributions are to be made, or not made, are kept private.

So one thing to think about when setting up your Will is how important is your privacy to you, and would you consider setting up a trust to ensure your privacy after you are gone.

About the Author

Peter Moustakis
Peter Moustakis is the Managing Member of Sowerby & Moustakis, PLLC with locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Peter has received an award related to estate planning, contributed to 2 family law publications and authored the book “Estate Planning and the Modern Family: Old School Meets New School. He is a former President, Vice-President, Secretary Treasurer and Education Coordinator of Business Networking International Commerce Connection in Wayland, MA. He is also the former vice chair of the animal law committee at the Massachusetts Bar Association and served on the New Hampshire Bar Association Ethics Committee. Peter believes that community service is important and has served on the Amherst town Ways and Means Committee for 4 years and was chair of the committee for 2 years.