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F. Time and publicity

F. Time and publicity

Probate of a Will takes time – at least six months. The Trustee of a Trust, however, can begin distributing property according to your wishes immediately after death. Probate records are open, but a Trust document is private.

Very often, neither of these factors is of practical concern to the survivors, but sometimes they are, and can cut both ways. There is a potential advantage to the delay and publicity of probate court: It purposely puts the world on legal notice that the time is now to come forward with claims against the deceased. Creditors generally must, by law, present their claims against the estate to the Executor within a limited period (six months is common) or they may be barred forever. That rigid statutory cut-off period might not apply to claims against your Trust. It almost certainly would not apply if legal notice had not been published, as happens during the probate of a Will. This could be important if you are involved in a profession or business that might leave potential claims against you “out there” when you die. On the other hand, a potential disadvantage of probate court’s public records is that the financial problems of a family business might be revealed to competitors and/or customers – if they look.

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