Except in very unusual circumstances, Wills and the probate process that goes along with them are a matter of public record and can be located and viewed through the probate courts. Plenty of Michigan Wills can even be found by a simple internet search. For example, given the surge in interest for genealogy, it is no surprise that people are turning to Wills as a way to track their family’s history simply by accessing Ancestry.com or similar sites.
The fact that the vast majority of estate records in Michigan are public may be unsettling for various reasons. For instance, you may be particularly concerned about these records being public if you do not want certain family members or strangers to be able to access an inventory of your property after you pass away.
There is no doubt that many people have concerns about the privacy of their probated estate after they pass away. In fact, this is one of the leading reasons why clients choose to sit down with our experienced Michigan estate planning lawyers to discuss their goals.
Despite the public nature of a Will, there are estate planning tools that can be used to protect your privacy. With the help of your Bloomfield Hills, Michigan estate planning lawyer, you can plan for your desired privacy through the use of techniques including beneficiary designations, titling of assets, and most importantly, Trusts.
Assets with specific beneficiary designations transfer directly to the named beneficiary after you pass away and are, therefore, not listed in your public probate estate. Additionally, the manner in which you hold property, such as through joint titling, can also allow the property to pass directly to the joint owner without being named in a public probate process. It is important to note that these methods of avoiding probate require proper planning in order to be effective.
Finally, when assets are properly placed in a Trust, you will gain greater flexibility, control, and privacy with regard to your financial concerns and last wishes after you pass away. Once established and funded, the Trust will hold title to the named assets and manage the property over the course of your lifetime, according to the terms you set.
To learn more about how this process works and how a Bloomfield Hills estate planning attorney can assist you, schedule a consultation with our office today. Need help in another office? We have three locations. Click here to find the office closest to you.