Wills and trusts attorneys across the nation are recognizing that the establishment of trusts can offer some real advantages to their clients.  One of these benefits is that trusts can offer you a lot more privacy than wills can.  The recent death of billionaire Steve Jobs has provided an interesting example of how well this works.

While it seems that nearly every aspect of Steve Job’s death has been discussed, right down to his last words (“Oh, wow.  Oh, wow.  Oh, wow.”), there isn’t a whole lot of information on what became of his truly sizable estate.  As someone who lived very much in the public spotlight, Jobs and his estate planning attorneys were able to find ways to protect the privacy of him and his heirs.  One of the biggest ways this was accomplished was through the use of trusts.

Most of us have seen the movie scenes where the super-rich uncle’s will is read to a roomful of mourning and/or greedy relatives.  The problem with this in real life is that wills must go through a probate proceeding.  The document becomes public, and pretty much anyone from Orange County and beyond can have access to it.  Even those who don’t have billions of dollars in cash and assets can still see the benefits of not having your financial information become public knowledge.  Putting these assets into a trust avoids the need for them to go through probate and generally allows them to be dispersed for your intended purposes much sooner.

That “intended purposes” part is pretty important, too.  A good estate attorney will help you to analyze your goals for your estate and then create trusts that aim toward those goals.  Some considerations might include:

  • Do you want your inheritance to stay with your bloodline?
  • Are there specific charitable causes you want to support?
  • Is the money earmarked for specific uses, such as college for your children?
  • Do you have pets that need to be provided for through a pet trust?

Another major consideration for having an estate planning attorney set up the appropriate trusts is that it can save an incredible amount in Federal and state estate taxes.  Creating the right kinds of trusts can shield your estate from most taxes.  In fact, it is suspected that of Steve Job’s projected $6-billion-dollar estate, absolutely none of it will go to pay for estate taxes.  The trusts can protect the money in other ways, as well, such as avoiding nursing home costs that often deplete an estate before Medicaid assistance picks up enough of the bill.

An Orange County wills and trusts attorney will work with you to determine what kinds of trusts might be most beneficial and ensure you avoid probate.  While pretty much no one is planning for a Steve Job’s sized estate, setting up trusts can protect the privacy, intentions, and bottom line of even the middle class.