Would you want others to see private details such as how much money you had and who you left it to when you died? Did you know that this can happen if you die with only a Last Will and Testament, which is by law a public document?
Singer Whitney Houston had a Will, but didn’t have a Living Trust. As a result, instead of her final wishes remaining private, her Will was filed in probate court and her information became public for all the world to see.
Whitney’s Will was written so that her beneficiaries receive their inheritances outright. Whitney left most of her assets to her daughter Bobbi Kristina. Because her daughter is 18, she is entitled to receive everything at once with a Will in place. However, according to TMZ, there have been concerns about Bobbi Kristina’s responsibility and her struggles with substance abuse issues, much like her mother.
If Whitney Houston did her Estate Planning using a Living Trust, this result would have been avoided. Unlike a Will, which passes through probate court, a Living Trust is handled privately, outside of court. Living Trusts typically have provisions to spell out what beneficiaries inherit, when, and how. Typically, young adults (in our firm, this typically means adults under the age of 25, but could be defined differently in the trust document) do not receive money under a Living Trust until they reach a certain age. Typically Living Trusts state that money going to younger beneficiaries is to be managed by a Trustee and used for their benefit, for things like health, education, living expenses, but not given directly to the younger beneficiaries to spend and control.
(Copied from an email from The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. in Fairfax Virginia)