Friday, March 23, 2012

Whitney Houston's Will Is Now Public - What Was She Thinking?

By Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho


Whitney Houston’s Last Will and Testament is available on the internet and everyone can see the terms of her estate plan.  Her estate goes to her daughter and is managed until she is 30, with some assets going to her earlier.   Do you want your affairs made public?  There were similar news reports about the Last Will and Testament for Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Elvis Presley.   Every word of their Wills became public.

How does this happen?  When someone dies with a “Last Will and Testament,” their Estate must be probated in the local court.  This means the Will is filed with the court along with a petition requesting that the terms of the Will be followed and that someone nominated in the Will be appointed by the court to wind up the affairs of the deceased person.  All of these documents filed with the court become a public record and are available for anyone to view.  They just need to go to the courthouse and pay for copies.  

Maybe this is not a problem for some people.  But many of us would not be happy if the details of our personal lives were available for strangers to review.  It is none of their business.

If this is a concern of yours, you may want to consult with your lawyer about how to create an estate plan that keeps your affairs private and still accomplishes your planning goals.

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