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Trusts keep Kent estate matters private

For some families, one of the most undesirable aspects of the probate process may be the fact that court documents are generally a matter of public record and can be viewed by anyone. For example, Kent readers may have seen recent stories about how the heirs of former Monkees frontman, Davy Jones, asked the court to seal the records of the singer's probate estate administration. In the singer's case, the heirs expressed concern that the details of probate proceedings might negatively influence public opinion and hurt sales and royalties.

Publicity is not the only reason, however, to be cautious about opening estate documents to public view as there have been cases of people using estate information to take advantage of heirs. Avoiding probate, and avoiding putting estate affairs into the public eye, is one of the many benefits of incorporating trusts into an estate plan.

The provisions of a trust operate independently of court supervision, so a trust provides an efficient way to manage the distribution of estate assets. Trusts also offer a certain amount of protection against the interests of creditors, so they make an effective tool for asset preservation.

Although establishing a trust does not necessarily eliminate the need for a will, it can help keep the terms of the will simple and eliminate the need to report estate assets to the court. Trusts are not just for the wealthy or the famous. A trust can help families facing the difficulty of loss avoid the expensive and cumbersome probate process and keep family matters private.

Source: Times Herald-Record, "Protecting your Future: Consider trusts if your goal is to avoid publicity," Bonnie Kraham, Oct. 11, 2012

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