Aug 1, 2013

Avoid probate, safeguard your family's privacy: Brooke Shields' story

We all value our privacy in life. But what about in death? If you want to keep your loved ones' affairs private, you should look into creating an estate plan that avoids probate.

Privacy is a particularly precious commodity for the rich and the famous. Take actress Brooke Shields, for example. Shields' mother Teri died of Alzheimer's disease in 2012, leaving everything to her daughter. In public court documents related to her mother's will, the actress' New York City home address appears. That detail is a big concern for Shields, who has two young daughters and was stalked for over a decade by an obsessed fan. Shields has petitioned the New York Surrogate Court to strike any reference to her address, stating, “If my actual residence address were disclosed...substantial intrusion on the privacy of myself and my family would result, with the potential for significant disturbance to me and to my minor children who reside with me.” 

A similar situation unfolded just a few weeks ago, when James Gandolfini's will was filed in New York, also revealing the address of his apartment, which he left to his son.

You don't have to be a celebrity to value your and your loved ones' privacy. If this is a concern for you, you will want to look into an estate plan that keeps your estate planning documents from becoming public record. Many Floridians turn to living trusts for this purpose. Consult an experienced Florida estate planning/elder law attorney for assistance.

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