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Are Living Trusts Public?

When drafting their wills, many people note privacy as one of their chief concerns. Because wills catalogue the contents of a person’s estate and delineates to whom these items will go, it is an understandable concern. After a person’s death, wills are generally filed with the local probate court, which makes them a matter of public record. At this point, anyone interested in learning about the contents of a person’s will can access these documents. For this reason, many people consider instead to opt for living trusts.

 

Living trusts differ from wills in that they do not need to be filed with a probate court after a person’s death. No one needs to supervise a trustee or how your assets are distributed. A trust document remains a matter of private concern and only those individually named in the trust need know the contents of this document.

 

There are a few elements of a trust that may become public after a person’s death, however. The first pertains to real estate. While the public cannot access a private trust, real estate ownership is always public. Therefore, if your trust transfers ownership of your real estate to a new party, this transfer will be made public at the local records office. A person would need to specifically seek out this information at the county level in order to find this out, though.

 

Additionally, the only other time the contents of a living trust would be made public is if the document becomes the subject of a lawsuit. If, for instance, a relative were to sue another one over some term of the trust, that document would become part of the public record of the lawsuit. These types of suits are rare, however, and in most instances the estate would be distributed peacefully under the terms of the trust.

 

To learn more about living trusts or for help in drafting your own living trust, contact the skilled estate planning attorneys at Charles Law Office in Florida.

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