These days, protecting your information is more important than ever. Clients are often worried about the private information contained in a will becoming public knowledge when they go through probate. There are usually two areas for concern.
- The will itself. When a will is probated, the will is entered in its entirety into the court record and often times, into the deed records of the county for property transfers. That information is very pubic. However, it is good to know that its required that any social security numbers be redacted from a will that is filed.
- The inventory. In most cases, an inventory is also required to be filed publicly with the court. The inventory lists all assets of the estate as well as any debts owed to the estate.
There in a mechanism in the Texas Estates Code to get around the privacy issue of the inventory. This new(ish) provision allows for the executor to file an affidavit in lieu of inventory after a will is probated. The executor can only do this if the estate meets certain requirements, but it is a great time saving measure, and most importantly, doesn’t advertise all of the assets that are in the estate. When it comes to the will, ff there are concerns about making family dynamics and assets public, or just a good ole fashioned attitude of mind-your-own-business, then a trust is probably your best bet.
Zane Frisbie is a Partner at Regan & Frisbie, PLLC, a law firm focusing on Wills, Trusts, Probate, Contracts, Business Formations (LLC, Corporation, S-Corp Designation), Business Disputes, and Consumer Litigation.