Unlike wills, trusts do not pass through the public probate process—and therefore can protect a family’s privacy. Some families, however, end up with public conflicts even when a trust has been established. Take, for example, the case of famous singer, Don McClean and his family.
Bye, Bye Miss American Pie?
Estate lawyers advise families to thoughtfully prepare estate plans–and discuss them, resolving conflicts and mending relationships along the way. Alas, human nature does not always follow this wisdom, as Law Professor Blogs Network reports:
Don McLean, the famous ‘American Pie’ singer revealed that he “cut off his daughter, Jackie McLean, financially after she gave a tell-all interview accusing him of mental and emotional abuse.” Don stated “. . .I have a son [Wyatt], you know, who grew up the same way who thinks I’m a great father and who has none of these complaints. But I said to my daughter, if you speak out about me and trash me, I’m going to disinherit you….” Don denied his daughter’s accusations and claimed that he has always loved and supported his daughter—until he cut her off.
Hmmm! Hopefully, most of us will avoid family drama—and the public unfolding of it. Even when there are no hostilities involved, many families value privacy and As Tucker Allen Estate and Elder Law points out, opting for a trust instead of a will means that the public process of probate is avoided. Alternatively, when there is a will, it goes through probate—the public, legal process that takes place when someone dies. Nolo provides this summary of the steps involved in probate:
- proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid (usually a routine matter)
- identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
- having the property appraised
- paying debts and taxes, and
- Distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
Families that are well organized—and conflict-free can take advantage of the simplified and expedited probate processes most states now offer. When the will is created, it is important to carefully designate an executor and ensure this person is well prepared with a good understanding of your intentions and armed with information about the location of your documents and other vital information. If there is no will, the court will appoint a personal representative or administrator and use state intestate law to determine the distribution of assets. Sometimes, probate courts request a fiduciary bond to protect the beneficiaries and estate during the probate process. You can learn more about the purpose and types of fiduciary bonds —and how to quickly obtain them from the national provider, Colonial Surety, right here.
When Is A Trust Necessary?
As legal experts point out, trusts can be helpful to families when they wish to maintain privacy, protect assets, or set up periodic disbursements of assets to beneficiaries. Note that when a trust is established, a trustee is appointed to oversee it. Given the significant fiduciary duties undertaken by the trustee, the trust agreement may require a trustee bond— a specific type of fiduciary bond, which protects the interests of the trust and its beneficiaries in accordance with applicable state law. Essentially, trustee bonds guarantee the faithful performance of the trustee. As a leading national provider of many types of fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to obtain a trustee bond. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the law office. Obtain Your Trustee Bond Here.
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