Can I prevent my beneficiaries from knowing what other beneficiaries are receiving in my Will?
If a testator wants to distribute assets to multiple children in different amounts, he/she might want to prevent each beneficiary from knowing what the others are getting in order to mitigate strife and avoid hurt feelings. However, in Florida, each beneficiary of a Will has the right to acquire a copy of the Will. Even if a beneficiary was only left $1, the Florida Probate Code mandates that he/she still must have access to a copy of the Will in its entirety, after the death of the testator.
However, there are some alternative methods one might pursue to keep the asset distribution private from certain beneficiaries. First, one can leave assets using “Will substitutes,” such as payable-on-death accounts (“POD accounts”). With multiple POD accounts, one can distribute assets to multiple beneficiaries without each knowing the amount the others received. POD assets do not have to go through the probate process, either, so there will be no court record of the asset distribution.
Another option is to leave one’s assets in multiple Trusts, with only certain individuals named in each Trust as beneficiaries. This can be expensive, but it is another way of preventing beneficiaries from knowing the exact amounts each is receiving. As with Wills, the beneficiaries under each Trust are entitled to a copy of the Trust under the Florida Trust Code.
To prepare your estate plan documents with trustworthy and experienced trust and estate attorneys, or to review existing documents, please contact Bach, Jacobs & Byrne, P.A. at (941) 906-1231.