When the wealthy financier, Jeffrey Epstein, died under mysterious circumstances (the Medical Examiner determined that is a suicide, but many people are skeptical), he left behind a huge fortune close to $600 million, along with creditors and lawsuits. Just two days before his death, he signed his Will, which left his estate to his trust, the 1953 Trust. Because that Trust is not filed with the Court, its contents should remain private, barring litigation involving the Trust’s beneficiaries or trustee’s duties.
In the Will, Epstein is listed as a resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands. After his death, his Will was filed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, probably because his attorneys thought the probate process would be more private.
For regular people who are not rich or famous, privacy is still a huge deal. That is why many people opt for using trusts in their estate planning, instead of just relying on a Will.
Here are some important differences between a Will and a Trust:
- A will goes into effect only after you die
- A will only covers property that is in your name at your death
- A will passes through a court process called Probate. In Probate, the court oversees the will’s administration and ensures the will is valid and the property gets distributed the way the deceased wanted.
- Because a will passes through Probate, it’s a public record.
- A will allows you to name a guardian for children (Note: Our firm recommends that in addition to this, you use a stand alone guardian nomination.)
- A trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterwards.
- A trust covers only property that has been transferred to the trust. In order for property to be included in a trust, it must be put in the name of the trust.
- A trust passes property outside of probate, so a court does not need to oversee the process, which can save time and money.
- A trust remains private Unlike a will, which becomes part of the public record, a trust can remain private.
Secure your wealth, your legacy, and your family’s future
Regardless of how much or how little wealth you plan to pass on—or stand to inherit—it’s vital that you take steps to make sure that wealth is protected and put to the best use possible. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we have unique processes and systems to help you put the proper planning tools in place to ensure the wealth that’s transferred is not only secure, but that it’s used by your loved ones in the very best way possible.
Moreover, every plan we create has built-in legacy planning services, which can greatly facilitate your ability to communicate your most treasured values, experiences, and stories with the ones you’re leaving behind. By working with us, you can rest assured that the coming wealth transfer offers the maximum benefit for those you love most.
This article is a service of the law firm of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.
Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.
To read more about Epstein’s estate and to view a copy of the Will, you can visit the article on the NY Post’s website here.