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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Learning From Steve Jobs: How to Keep Your Financial Affairs Private After Death

January 23, 2012

Estate planning lawyers across the nation agree that trusts offer many benefits and protections that simple wills do not. One of these benefits is that trusts can offer you a lot more privacy than wills can. The recent death of billionaire Steve Jobs has been cited as a clear example of this.

While it seems that nearly every aspect of Steve Job’s death has been discussed, right down to his last words (“Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.”), there isn’t a whole lot of information on what became of his truly sizable estate. As someone who lived very much in the public spotlight, Jobs and his trust attorneys were able to find ways to protect the privacy of Jobs and his heirs. One of the biggest ways this was accomplished was through the use of trusts.

Most of us have seen the movie scenes where the super-rich uncle’s will is read to a roomful of mourning and/or greedy relatives. The document becomes public, and pretty much anyone from California and beyond can have access to it. This is actually similar to the real life probate process. If you pass away without a trust in place, your affairs will displayed publicly in court for all the world to see.

That is why even people without billions of dollars in cash and assets can still benefit from the privacy aspects of a trust. Placing the assets you do have into a trust avoids the need for them to go through probate and generally allows them to be dispersed for your intended purposes much sooner.

That “intended purposes” part is pretty important, too. A good estate attorney will help you to analyze your goals for your estate and then create trusts that aim toward those goals. Some considerations might include:

  • Do you want your inheritance to stay with your bloodline?
  • Are there specific charitable causes you want to support?
  • Is the money earmarked for specific uses, such as college for your children?
  • Do you have pets that need to be provided for through a pet trust?

Another major consideration for having an estate planning attorney set up the appropriate trusts is that it can save an incredible amount in taxes. In fact, it is suspected that of Steve Job’s projected $6-billion-dollar estate, absolutely none of it will go to pay for estate taxes.For the non-billionaires among us, trusts can protect the money in other ways, as well, such as avoiding nursing home costs that often deplete an estate before Medi-Cal (Medicaid) assistance picks up the bill.

A local Sacramento –area wills and trusts attorney will work with you to determine what kinds of trusts might be most beneficial for your situation. While pretty much no one is planning for a Steve Job’s sized estate, setting up trusts can protect the privacy, intentions, and bottom line of even the middle class.

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