A common recurring nightmare is finding yourself in a public place without any clothing. This nightmare cuts to the heart of one of our primal fears: the fear of not having privacy and the protections which privacy provides.
Today, nosy neighbors, or those with more malicious intentions, can find a great deal of information about you by doing simple online searches. If you value your privacy, you probably have an unlisted telephone number. But, did you know that someone may be able to find where you live simply by knowing your name, even if you have an unlisted telephone number? If you own your home, a search of county property records typically will reveal a list of the properties owned by you. If you're not Donald Trump, it would be fairly simple to determine which property is your residence.
For many of us, this only leads to minor annoyances like junk mail. However, for law enforcement officers, security officers, educators, politicians, local personalities, doctors and others, it could lead to embarrassment or even a compromise of your family's safety. Imagine a mentally disturbed criminal knowing where the arresting officer's family lives. That's a scary thought! You can imagine your own nightmare scenario.
But, you can reduce the possibility of that nightmare becoming a reality by enhancing your privacy with a revocable living trust. If the trust owns your home and other property, it is the name of the trust. This opens up a variety of options that enable you to keep the location of your residence confidential.
A trust has additional privacy advantages at your death. Property held in your individual name must go through “probate” at your death. This is true even if you have a validly executed will. Probate is a public process in which the nature and extent of your assets are a matter of public record. With probate, the names of your beneficiaries are a matter of public record.
The better alternative is to hold your assets in a trust. Since a trust does not die, no probate is necessary. A trust is private, even at your death. With a trust, the nosy neighbor will not be able to find out your very personal wishes nor what you owned at your death. Nor will those unscrupulous characters, who might seek to take advantage of your family when they are at their most vulnerable.
A qualified estate planning attorney who focuses in this field can help you create a trust to protect your privacy and provide peace of mind both during life and after your death.
Larry Deason is a Yuma attorney who is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. He can be reached at 783-4466 or visit www.deasonlaw.com.