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How "Private" is Private?

When I entered basic training waaaaay back in 1998, I had never thought much about privacy in my everyday world. Then I was deposited into a barracks, (Fine, since it’s the Air Force we called it a dorm) with roughly 47 other females, and we all showered together—not a lot of privacy. There also wasn’t a lot of time to think about that lack of privacy, since showers mainly consisted of throwing on your shower shoes (a.k.a. flip flops), squeezing a dot of shampoo on your head and a dot of shower gel on your shoulder, then pretty much running in a line of women through the parallel bank of shower heads before jumping out and drying off. But I learned quickly: there was no such thing as privacy in the military.

To some people, this scenario would be no big deal. Afterall, we have nude beaches and nudist colonies, right? To others, it would be an absolute nightmare.

In estate planning, it’s important for me to know how important privacy is to each of my clients, so we can preserve the degree of privacy they desire.

There are also those times when you may think you have privacy but don’t. When I worked at the Pentagon, there was Pentagon security, metal detectors, certain access badges… You would think, in such a well-secured government building, that things were private. But in certain places in the Pentagon, we would have to take protective measures regarding our communication devices, because at the time, there were hackers who could access phones and listen in to conversations. Those hacks could’ve have had national security consequences, had we not put measures in place to prevent them.

Just like being inside a “secured” facility did not guarantee our conversations were private, some people may assume they have privacy regarding their estate, when in fact they don’t. In the state of Florida, when you die, your Will is deposited with the Court and then becomes a matter of public record. This means anyone can see if you’ve disinherited your children, or any other information from your Will. If you have a Trust, though, the Trust typically does not become public record. For people concerned about the privacy of their decisions and end-of-life plans, a Trust may actually be a better option.

Privacy matters more to some people than to others. I help my clients determine how much privacy they want in their estate plan, then craft a plan that fits their desires—because there’s nothing worse than being vulnerable or exposed, whether in a shower with 47 women or by people learning you disinherited your kids.

At the start of this year, I decided to write this series of blogs to share more about myself and why I do the work I do, while also providing helpful information about estate planning (and hopefully some entertainment and humor). As this project has been going, it’s come to mind that maybe I should post more blogs, especially since every time I talk about one thing, I think of ten more things I want to talk about or that should be shared. Because of that, blogs like this will be coming more frequently, now—at least two per month—so please keep checking back more often!

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