Wills and Privacy: Who Can See Your Last Will and Testament?

Many people want their final days and plans to remain private, and this want includes the desire to control who learns about their estate plans. However, in Texas, most probate cases are public matters and appear on public records.Essentially, anyone who’s interested in your estate plans can see them.

This is appalling for people who wish for their estate plans to remain private. It’s alarming for even those who aren’t concerned with privacy; would you want everyone to see your plans? Here’s who can see your will and some possible ways to increase the process’s privacy.



Who Can See Your Will?

Your will is the document that lays out the terms of your estate plans. It contains information such as what a beneficiary’s rights are and who receives how much of your property. The recipients of the property are known as heirs, and they can receive either property or the proceeds from its sale.

The personal representative is responsible for distributing (and possibly selling) your property, so they must see your will. Typically, this isn’t a cause for concern for the trustor, as they know this is necessary and choose accordingly. However, once the will is probated, anyone can see it. Additionally, everyone can read the documents in the probate record (unless sealed by court order), such as an inventory of the decedent’s assets.



Are There Ways to Increase Your Will’s Privacy?

If you do go through the probate process, there is a way to prevent your inventory from becoming public knowledge. They can file an affidavit in lieu of inventory, asserting that the beneficiaries have copies of the inventory and all debts are paid.

If you’re looking for more wholescale privacy, you can use trusts. Essentially, you can transfer your property to a trust and assign a trustee (the person that manages the trust’s assets). Instruct the trustee to sell the property according to a predetermined agreement. They can then divvy up the proceeds to the beneficiaries. This bypasses the probate process, so your records don’t become public.

However, handling trusts can be a difficult and complex process. For instance, there’s a significant amount of record-keeping involved, and creditors can also create issues. It’s best to consult a trust attorney before executing a trust agreement.

If you’re looking for an attorney to help you with your estate planning, contact us at Mike Massey Law. We provide trust, probate, and estate planning attorneys in Travis, Harris County, Houston, and Austin.

14 views0 comments

Mike Massey JD, MBA, MPA just might be the 195th most interesting person in Texas. He has 4 college degrees and he's working on a 5th:  BBS Accounting; MPA Master's in Professional Accounting; JD Law Degree; MBA Master's in Business Administration; BBS in Biblical Studies (in progress).

Read More

FOLLOW US

  • Yelp Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

Locations:

Austin Westlake: 418 Grace Ln, Austin, TX 78746

Houston: 10810 Katy Fwy, #102,  Houston, TX 77043

San Antonio: by appointment only

Austin Arboretum: In process of relocating

¡Se habla español!

Subscribe to our newsletter

© 2020 Mike Massey Law.  Managing Attorney Mike Massey, 8911 Capital of Texas Hwy, Ste 3210, Austin, TX, 78759.  Email: mike@MyTxWills.com.  Phone: 888-407-2407.  Mike Massey, Texas Bar # 24032584. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Privacy Statement.  Prices can vary based on your unique situation and potential add-on services.  Prices for in-office (in person) meetings typically cost more than virtual meetings that are done over the phone instead of in person.  Prices for virtual estate planning do not include an execution ceremony or notary, as those services are not available with our discounted virtual estate planning packages. If your a personal injury case client on a contingency fee, then if we do not win, you will not be responsible for attorney's fees, court costs, or litigation expenses, but if we do win money for you via a settlement or court verdict, then attorney's fees, court costs, litigation expenses and unpaid medical bills will be taken from your share of the recovery. Mike Massey Law is not responsible for your unpaid medical bills.

FAQ's, Q&A, Answers, Information on this site: The materials presented on this site are intended for informational purposes only. These materials should not be used as legal advice applicable to the reader's specific situation. In addition, our provision of this information to the reader in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship. No action should be taken on information provided within this website without counsel from a professional attorney. The request or receipt of any information from this website or any of the attorneys in our employ does not signify our acceptance to represent the recipient of this information.  It is our intention that all materials posted on this site be up to date and correct. However this information is subject to change without notice and should not be relied upon for accuracy and pertinence to the reader's specific circumstances.

*Note on Contingency Fees: No attorney’s fees unless you recover. Court costs, litigation expenses, and medical bills are paid from your share of the recovery. If there is no recovery, you will not be responsible for any court costs or litigation expenses, except for unpaid medical bills.