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Protecting Your Privacy In Your GA Estate Plan

Privacy is one of the most important things to many in your GA estate plan. Today’s article focuses on privacy and the steps you can take to protect it.

An important distinction about privacy is: do you want it now, while you’re alive? Or is your privacy important even after your death? Some people don’t mind that certain documents become public record after their death, while others don’t want any details of their estate becoming public record ever.

Trusts vs. Wills vs. No Estate Planning Documents

This is the most popular debate in GA estate plans. Which is better, a Trust or a Will? There’s also the matter of dying intestate or without any estate planning documents. No Will, no Trust. Nothing. 

Before we get into the debate more, let’s unpack each of these scenarios a bit.


A Trust is not a matter of public record. It does not have to be filed and remains a private contract even after your death. There are instances where elements of a Trust or elements of an estate governed by a Trust may become public record, but this is only if something goes wrong. For instance, if a portion of the Trust were contested and the Court had to intervene. It’s likely that some, if not all, of the Trust would have to be filed with the Court as evidence. Another instance of a portion of the estate becoming public record is if an asset or property was not a part of the Trust. This asset or property would have to go through the probate process in order to be transferred to the Trust. Probate is a matter of public record.


Wills become a matter of public record when they are filed with the Court. Most people do not file the Will until after the testator has died, thus starting the probate process. When a Will is filed with the Court it is now a document available to anyone who requests it (and pays applicable fees).

No Estate Planning Documents

Lastly, while not having an estate plan could arguably be the most private during your lifetime (you don’t meet with an attorney to discuss your estate, so your estate is private), when a person dies without a valid Will or Trust they have died intestate. And this is when what was private begins to become public. The entire estate must pass through the probate process— making every document, accounting, bank statement, property valuation, etc. a public record. Additionally, all potential heirs must be located, and this can often mean putting an advertisement in the newspaper seeking said heirs.

As you can see, each of the situations above offer varying levels of privacy. If privacy is a concern, we always recommend a Trust. But if you don’t mind your estate becoming public record after your death, a Will may suffice. It truly depends on your estate and desires.

But there’s more to consider than just which documents you choose.

Share GA Estate Plan Documents Only With Those Who Need Them

Certain documents need to be shared with certain individuals.

For instance, your Power of Attorney agent needs a copy of the document in order to act on your behalf. It’s important to share this document with them. Remember, there are safeguards within the document designed to protect you and your estate. It’s always important to trust the individuals you name as your Power of Attorney agent because you are potentially giving them a lot of power.

The same is true of your Advanced Directive for health care. It’s important to share this document with the agent you name and with your medical practitioners. Your medical practitioners will add this document to your chart in the event it is ever needed.

Sharing documents that need to be shared, while keeping others private, is a good way to safeguard your privacy.

Your GA Estate Plan is Only as Discreet as the People You Tell About it

We know that certain people need to be informed about your estate planning. In fact, we recommend good communication around your estate planning with your loved ones.

But if privacy is a major concern, limiting who you share with and what you share is important.

For instance, the persons named as guardians of your children and pets should probably know before you name them— just so there are no surprises.

Again, letting your successor Trustee or Executor know where you’re storing your Trust or Will and how to access it is important.

But sharing the details of asset distribution with your gossiping great aunt? That may be a recipe for disaster.

Share with the ones who need to know. But let them know it is a private matter and you’d like the information to stay between you.

Commonly Asked Questions About GA Estate Plans:

How much does it cost to do estate planning in Georgia?

Costs for estate planning in Georgia vary based on factors like complexity and attorney fees. Simple plans might cost a few hundred dollars, while more intricate ones could reach several thousand dollars.

What documents are needed for estate planning in Georgia?

Common documents for estate planning in Georgia include a will, power of attorney, healthcare directive, and possibly trusts depending on your circumstances and goals.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Georgia?

In Georgia, estates worth $15,000 or less may qualify for a simplified probate process. For larger estates, probate is typically required, but exceptions may apply depending on the assets and circumstances.

What is the order of inheritance without a will in Georgia?

In Georgia, when someone dies without a will, intestate succession laws determine inheritance. Generally, assets pass to the surviving spouse, then children, parents, siblings, and more distant relatives in order of closeness.

At Siedentopf Law we are here to help you create the most effective estate plan for your needs and can guide you to the best tools and practices for keeping your estate private. Call us at (404) 736-6066 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.

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