There are many differences between a Will and a Revocable Living Trust, but one of the most fundamental differences is that a Will eventually becomes public, while a Revocable Living Trust, in most cases, does not.
In order for a Will to serve its purpose, it has to be probated when you pass away. And, the first step in the probate process is to file your Will with the court. When this happens, your Will, like any other document filed in court, becomes a matter of public record. In addition to this, a notice is published in the newspaper stating that you’ve passed away and your Will has been admitted to probate.
So, not only do your relatives get to see the contents of your Will, so does anyone else who’s interested – including nosy co-workers and neighbors, and unscrupulous creditors.
If you have a basic, bare-bones Will, this may not be a problem. But what if your Will contains information you’d rather not share with the world? This can be a concern that affects a variety of people, from parents who are disinheriting a child, to those who have substantial assets, to couples who are in a same-sex relationship and want to keep their status private.
If you would rather keep access to your estate plan on a need-to-know basis, you may need a Revocable Living Trust. If you pass away with a trust, there’s no requirement that it be filed or registered anywhere. As long as there’s no lawsuit challenging the validity of your trust, the Successor Trustee simply takes over and settles your estate according to the written terms of the document.
If you’re concerned about privacy, or if you want to learn about the other benefits of a Revocable Living Trust, you’ll want to speak to an estate planning attorney.