Most people think of probate (the process of collecting, managing, and distributing a deceased person’s money and property) as a private process. However, because wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means that anyone can simply go down to the courthouse or hop online and find out about your probate, including your family information and a detailed inventory of all of your assets.
A Public View Into Your Family and Money…
In Ohio, once an estate is opened with the Probate Court, the documents are public records and available to the world. While nosy people may just be an annoyance, others can get access to your public records and make your beneficiaries’ lives miserable, such as:
- Financial predators. While today’s digital world is convenient, it’s also dangerous. Financial predators find ways to access sensitive personal information online. Since courts are part of a bureaucratic process that often moves slower than a glacier, months can elapse before you (or the court) realizes that your beneficiaries have been swindled.
- Charities. Even the most well-meaning charities can become an annoyance when money is considered “up for grabs.” This is especially true in an estate situation when those inheriting assets want to do the right thing and honor their loved one.
- Will challengers. Since a will that is filed with the probate court becomes a public record, those believing they have an interest (whether valid or invalid) can access the document and challenge the will. This can result in added costs and time defending the will from what could amount to a frivolous claim.
Keep your affairs private with a Trust
Trusts are not filed with a court, either before or after your death. Probate courts are not involved in supervising your trust administration. So, you can avoid intrusions by busybodies and predators by creating a trust. While some state laws require a total or partial disclosure of information regarding the trust to beneficiaries, it is still the best way to keep your legal affairs private.
Contact us today and let us help you create a trust to avoid probate and keep your family and financial affairs private. We are available to speak with you via telephone or through video conferencing if you prefer.