Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) August 7, 2014 – The late North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith left $200 to each of approximately 180 players he had coached for years.
The payments are not from his will, but rather from his revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is an estate planning tool that is used partly to maintain some level of privacy concerning the details of one’s estate.
While wills are public documents, and thus available to anyone who wishes to search public records, trusts are private. Smith’s generosity was publicized because players uploaded photos of his letters and checks on social media. According to Tim Breedlove, the trustee of Smith’s trust, he did not wish to draw attention to himself. His preference was that the attention be directed toward his players.
Estate planning attorney Lisa McDevitt stated, “A revocable living trust is a valuable estate planning tool for anyone who is concerned about maintaining some semblance of privacy regarding the details of their estate.”
Since privacy was a consideration, the use of a revocable living trust was appropriate. The trust is revocable in that it allows one to cancel the trust at any time. If one does not wish to cancel the trust, any assets transferred into the trust will not go through probate upon one’s demise. Therefore, they will not be frozen, and cannot be viewed by the public.
However, a will is still necessary for any assets that are left outside the trust. There is also a certain type of will named a “pour-over” will that is intended to accept all assets left outside the trust. Trusts tend to be more expensive than wills, and there may also be ongoing expenses incurred in terms of the fees paid to the trustee to administer the trust. Because assets usually remain in the trust for the heirs, trusts can last for a long period of time. The surviving spouse can arrange to have the trust remain in effect until the children reach a certain age, or have distributions made to them over a number of years.
For those with questions or concerns relating to revocable living trusts, it is best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney.
Lisa Lane McDevitt
2155 Bonaventure Drive
Vienna, VA 22181