Every person has the right to protect their assets and wishes by putting together a comprehensive estate plan. People also have to right to make their own decisions and protect the privacy of these wishes, as estate planning can be a very personal and private process.
It may not seem like a big deal to have the details of a will or other document made public, but there are many people who would like to avoid that if at all possible. For instance, people who are famous and those who are very wealthy may not want the details of their estate plan, including the amount of money and assets that are involved, to be widely known.
But how can this be accomplished?
People who want to keep confidential the terms of estate distributions may want to consider setting up a revocable trust in addition to or in place of a will.
A person who only has a will in place leaves the door open for details to be released to the public. For example, musician Lou Reed, who passed about in late 2013, reportedly only had a will in place when he died.
In his will, Reed apparently left much of his $30 million to his wife, including about $9 million in real estate assets. His sister was also left a significant sum of money, and there was also money set aside for the care of his elderly mother. Reed’s friend, who is one of two executors of the estate, has reportedly been successful pulling in over $20 million for the estate since Reed’s death, though apparently the executors have asked to be paid just $220,000 in fees.
While none of this information is particularly controversial or sensational, the fact is that all of it is readily and widely available to the public. This could make it difficult for Reed’s family and friends to have any sort of privacy in dealing with the terms of the will and protecting their financial interests.
People who would rather avoid this situation and keep their estate plans private should consider exploring their options to do so with the help of an attorney. A legal representative can help people develop an estate plan that reflects a person’s wishes and protects their interests.
Source: Forbes, “Lou Reed Walked On The Wild Side With His Estate Planning,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, July 10, 2014