If you are on this page, you probably have a few general Missouri estate planning questions you need answered. Attorney Dan Plaskett has taken the time to answer the most common questions he gets asked by people throughout Missouri before requesting a consultation. If you find the answers to these questions helpful and would like to speak with Dan, you can reach out to us by filling out our contact form. Our mission has always been to help our clients protect everyone they love and everything they have by focusing on what matters to them. We have done this with many families throughout Missouri. We hope we can assist you too and that this helps to answer your Missouri estate planning questions.
A document a person signs to provide for the orderly disposition of assets after death. Wills do not avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the willmaker dies and the original will is filed with the Probate Court. Still, everyone with minor children needs a will. It is the only way to appoint the new “back-up-parent” of an orphaned child. Special provisions in a will can create a testamentary trust to provide for the management and distribution of assets for heirs. Additionally, assets can be arranged and coordinated with provisions of the testamentary trusts to avoid death taxes.
Probate is both the court and process that looks after people who cannot make their own personal, health care and financial decisions. These people fall into three general categories: Minor Children (under age 18 in most states); Incapacitated Adults; and People who have died without legal arrangements to transfer their property at death. Probate proceedings are typically expensive, time-consuming, and public. Many people choose to avoid probate in order to save money, spare their heirs a legal hassle, and keep their personal affairs private.
Often called JTWROS, this is the most common form of asset ownership between spouses. Joint tenancy (or TBE) has the advantage of avoiding probate at the death of the first spouse. However, the surviving spouse should not add the names of other relatives to their assets. Doing so may subject their assets to loss through the debts, bankruptcies, divorces and/or lawsuits of any additional joint tenants. Joint tenancy planning may also result in unnecessary death taxes on the estate of a married couple upon the death of the surviving spouse.
You may avoid probate on the transfer of some assets at your death through the use of beneficiary designations. Laws regarding what assets may be transferred without probate (non-probate transfer laws) vary from state to state. Some common examples include life insurance, death benefits, and bank accounts.
These allow you to appoint someone you know and trust to make your personal health care and financial decisions even when you cannot. If you are incapacitated without these legal documents, then you and your family will be involved in a probate proceeding known as a guardianship and conservatorship. This is the court proceeding where a judge determines who should make these decisions for you under the ongoing supervision of the court.
This is an agreement with three parties: the Trust-makers, the Trustees (or Trust Managers), and the Trust Beneficiaries. For example, a husband and wife may name themselves all three parties to create their trust, manage all the assets transferred to the trust, and have full use and enjoyment of all the trust assets as beneficiaries. Further “back-up” managers can step in under the terms of the trust to manage the assets should the couple become incapacitated or die. Special provisions in the trust also control the management and distribution of assets to heirs in the event of the trustmaker’s death. With proper planning, the couple also can avoid or eliminate death taxes on their estate. The Revocable Living Trust may allow them to accomplish all this outside of any court proceeding.
Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, married or single, if you own titled assets such as a house and want your loved ones to avoid court interference at your death or incapacity, consider a revocable living trust. A trust allows you to bring all of your assets together under one plan.
No. Because you maintain complete control over your assets titled in your Living Trust, those assets are considered available for your use should you have to go into a nursing home.
It is critical that you title appropriate assets (those you wish to avoid Probate) in the name of the trust. Once a trust is created and funded, it will continue on until it is revoked or it is distributed pursuant to its terms. There are no on-going costs or fees to establishing a Living Trust; nor are there any separate accounting or tax returns required during your lifetime. IRS Regulations provide that a revocable living trust uses the tax identification number — your Social Security Number — of the Grantor as its identification number and no separate tax returns should be filed for the trust. Specific detailed instructions on how to transfer or title assets into the name of the trust will be provided or you can engage us to assit you with the transfers