Items and Issues You Cannot Keep Private with a Living Trust
One of the top benefits of a living trust is that, unlike a will, the trust does not have to be filed with a court at any time before or after your death. Therefore, the majority of its contents are never made public. In addition, the probate court does not have any supervisory powers over your trustee.
However, there are some circumstances in which the use of a living trust might not maintain your full privacy. Below are some items you may not be able to keep private:
- Terms of the trust in some states: Depending on where you pass away, state law might require that if you leave behind a living trust, the trustee must give a copy of trust documents to all beneficiaries upon their request. In some states, beneficiaries can only see the parts of the trust that pertain to them, but in others they could see everything. Some states also require the trustee to notify certain close relatives about the existence of a trust. Make sure you know relevant state laws when creating your trust.
- Real estate: Who owns a piece of real estate is always public record. Anyone can find out who owns a particular parcel of land. Therefore, if you intend to leave property to a beneficiary, know that it will be on public record.
- Lawsuits: If an upset beneficiary files a lawsuit over your estate, the trust document will almost definitely become public record as part of the lawsuit. These lawsuits are infrequent, but they do happen — especially in cases in which a person expecting a sizable inheritance is left with little or nothing. You can mitigate this issue by being transparent with all your beneficiaries about what they can expect to receive.
For further information on the limitations of living trusts when it comes to your privacy, consult an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.