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Is My Last Will and Testament Going to Be a Matter of Public Record?

Posted by Chris Peterson | Jan 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Is My Last Will and Testament Going to Be a Matter of Public Record?

bullhorn_cropfinalThis is something not many people give much thought to, but a person's will, like most other court filings, generally becomes a matter of public record after it has been submitted to the probate court.  With few exceptions, such as juvenile court proceedings, virtually all court filings are available to anyone who follows the proper procedures to request copies.

How can we seal the record?

To keep your will private, your estate representative must take extra steps to demonstrate to the probate court that there is a compelling reason to have the estate case shielded from prying eyes.

This is exactly what's happening in a Texas probate court now. Citing privacy and safety of the sole beneficiary and security of estate assets, Texas billionaire Harold Simmons' executor has asked the Dallas County Probate Judge to seal the contents of Simmons' will from public view. Simmons, who rose from poverty to the head of a massive corporate empire, is known to have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charities, as well being a donor for many Republican and conservative political campaigns.

Under Texas law, Simmons' executor will have to show there is a compelling personal interest for sealing the records which outweighs the public interest.

Make plans now to avoid probate where possible

Protecting the privacy of your beneficiaries and keeping the general public from knowing more than they should about your assets are more good reasons to consider using living trusts or other methods to transfer property to your intended heirs outside the probate process.

To learn more about protecting the privacy of your will or avoiding probate, contact an experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning attorney at the Peterson Law Group. Call 979-703-7014 today to schedule a meeting or visit us online for more information about our comprehensive estate planning services.

About the Author

Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is the owner of Peterson Law Group. He practices primarily in the areas of wills, trusts and estate planning; probate and trust administration; elder law; and business law. Chris is also the owner of Brazos 1031 Exchange Company.


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