Do I need to Revocable Living Trust to Maintain My Privacy?

Do I need to Revocable Living Trust to Maintain My Privacy?

Of all the reasons given for using the more expensive Revocable Living Trust (RLT) for estate planning, “privacy” is the biggest red herring.

It is true that with a RLT in which all assets are transferred into the Trust (most often not the case), then there is no need to probate a Will. The RLT is usually not a part of the public record. With probate, however, your Will becomes part of the public record and could be seen by anyone who wants to search the records.

The real truth is that we wish that our lives were interesting and that others cared about what we have and what we did with it. But they don’t! I can assure you that there will be no reporters or nosy neighbors or second cousins combing the courthouse records to see what is in your Will.

Why is there no interest? Because there are only a few types of assets that anyone can own. Or as I sometimes say, “there are only ten toys.” There is real estate, household effects, cars, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, business interests, and potential inheritance. That’s it. We all have more or less of these toys, meaning that there is nothing particularly unique about our assets. And there are only three types of beneficiaries—family, friends and charities—and everyone names them in some combination. Sorry, but there is no story … unless there is conflict—and that can be a story!

Remember Jack Kent Cooke? He had a RLT, but there was litigation and his affairs were all over the papers. That is because litigation creates public records and courtroom drama, which cannot be avoided with a RLT. Wouldn’t it be great to have Jack’s problems? But even in Jack’s case, does anyone really care except for the family members who didn’t get what they thought they deserved?