Elizabeth Edwards’ Will and Using a Revocable Trust for Non-Tax Benefits

Mrs. Edwards’ estate plan highlights two important non-tax benefits of using a Revocable Trust to own and distribute assets after death.

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Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate, John Edwards, executed her Last Will and Testament six days before her December 7, 2010, death.  The Will leaves her $1.5 million estate ($496,000 in personal property and $1 million in real property) in two parts.  All her personal property will pass to her children and the remainder of her assets will pass to her Revocable Trust, of which her daughter Catherine is the trustee.  Her Will does not mention John Edwards.

Although clear from probate records that $1 million in real property is passing to her Revocable Trust, since the trust document is not made part of the public record along with the Will, the disposition of the real property will remain private, and outside the oversight of the local court system.  While avoiding estate tax was clearly not her priority, by using a Revocable Trust, Mrs. Edwards was able to ensure the distribution of the trust assets will not be publicly known.  If she had taken further steps to transfer the real property to her trust while she was alive, the $1 million of real property owned by the trust would have remained outside the probate process, keeping not only the disposition of the property private, but also its value.

To view a complete copy of Mrs. Edwards’ Last Will and Testament click here