Privacy is a Key Advantage of Trusts
There are many different reasons why a trust may be appropriate for some estate plans, including tax benefits and the ability to control which individuals receive certain assets and property. But one of the primary advantages comes in the form of the enhanced privacy trusts tend to offer.
Trusts do not have to be filed with a probate court, and therefore your trustee may distribute all assets and property, often without making any information about the trust public. However, there are still a few elements of trusts that do not remain private, including:
- Some terms of the trust: Many states (but not Florida) require the trustee to give a copy of the living trust to beneficiaries upon request. Otherwise, beneficiaries may only see the specific part of the trust that includes them. Additionally, there are some cases in which trustees must notify some close relatives about the trust and give them a copy upon request. However, the trust would never be subject to public record.
- Real estate ownership: The ownership of real property is always subject to public record, which means it cannot be concealed in a trust. Anyone may go to a county clerk’s office and figure out who owns a parcel of real estate. Other related information might also be available there, including property taxes and appraisals. Thus, as soon as your property is transferred to your beneficiary, the new owner will be on public record.
- Legal action: If a relative or potential beneficiary decides to file a lawsuit because he or she is disgruntled with the process, the trust could become part of the lawsuit’s public record. However, these lawsuits usually only occur if a child expecting an inheritance is left with nothing, so it’s unlikely that you will need to worry much about this happening.
For more information on the various benefits of trusts, consult a dedicated Florida estate planning attorney at The Charles Law Offices.