Are All Wills a Matter of Public Record?

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Estate Planning Wills / Power of Attorney

Your last Will and Testament is essentially your instructions to the Probate Court as to how you would like your estate distributed.   When you die and your will is submitted to the court, a probate case is opened.  As with any legal case brought before the court, it becomes a matter of public record.

Most families don’t choose to share their personal and financial matters with the world while they are alive, but when we die, and choose to use a Will as the tool of settling our affairs and our estates, it becomes open for the world to see.  Remember if you choose not to do any formal estate planning including a will or a trust, the State has a generic will built into state law that decides for you how your affairs and your estate will be settled.

Some of the downsides of having your affairs made public is that friends, family, business competitors, solicitors and even con men can see what you have, who you owe, who your heirs are and who you left out.  Think of the lottery winners whose identity becomes public.  Surveys report that they are endlessly solicited for charity, handouts, donations, loans and investment deals and scams.  Opening your financial world to the public may subject your loved ones to some of the same unwanted intrusions.