I spoke with the personal representative of an estate. He was very upset because he had received many letters from investors who wanted to buy the home he inherited. He seemed to be very surprised to see how much information they knew about the Will of his deceased mother and he thought the Court should not have published this private information.
Unfortunately, upon death Wills are recorded and the public may review or buy copies of it. The public may also buy copies of deeds, mortgages, lawsuits, etc. Therefore, wills are a matter of public record, there is nothing private about a Will.
A better alternative to a Will is a Living Trust. A living trust generally does not have to be recorded and thus the public does not know the content of the documents. Besides this, the assets included in a trust will not have to go through probate, thus you save the attorney’s fee and executor’s fee. Trustees are entitled to a fee, but it is usually less than the above.
Trust assets may be distributed without attorney and court involvement and therefore can be distributed much faster.
Another advantage of a trust is that it could include the names of someone who can manage your affairs upon your incapacity without a court appointed guardian. Wills do not do anything for guardianship planning. The fact that the names of a guardian are included in a trust could save a substantial amount of time and money in guardianship fees.
So, it a Living Trust a better alternative? It depends, a Living Trust should be considered by all persons whose total estate exceeds $75,000.