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Why Do I Need Estate Planning?

An estate plan takes care of you and your loved ones. It is truly a gift to the people you care about. If you do not plan ahead, the state may make crucial decisions for you. Decisions you would not have elected. Missouri estate planning helps protect you and your loved ones while addressing questions like:

  • How will your assets be distributed when you pass?
  • Can you place assets in the hands of loved ones quickly and efficiently?
  • How can you avoid probate?
  • How can you plan for elderly parents?
  • How do you choose a guardian for minor children?
  • How do you plan for illness or incapacitation?
  • Who will manage your finances and make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot?
  • How do you avoid federal, estate, and death taxes?

How Does Estate Planning Help My Loved Ones and Me?

With proper estate planning from a professional firm such as The Estate Planner with offices in St. Louis, Missouri, you can avoid a lengthy and expensive estate administration process in probate court and ensure that your assets pass to your loved ones in a manner that is fast, inexpensive, and private. You can also appoint a guardian for minor children and set up plans to protect their inheritance.

An estate plan can include powers of attorney (both financial and healthcare) that help protect you if you are incapacitated. These powers allow you to appoint the individuals you want to be in charge of your finances and healthcare in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. While incapacitation can happen at any age, it becomes more likely as we age. Learn more about planning for elderly parents and our elder law services.

The right estate plan can avoid probate, provide creditor protection, charitable bequests and planned giving, save on taxes and other expenses, and support minor children and loved ones with disabilities. If you live in Missouri, reach out to speak with a Missouri estate planning lawyer.

What is Typically Included in Estate Planning?

Our Missouri estate planning attorney works with clients to prepare a comprehensive, unique estate plan, which may include a trust, a will, a health care and financial power of attorney, an advance directive, a HIPAA release, and other important documents. An estate planning lawyer ensures each document complies with Missouri state laws.

Will

Everyone should have a plan for what happens to their property after they die. One way to create this plan is through a will. A will allows you to specify where your money and possessions should go upon your passing. It also allows you to choose an executor (known as a personal representative in Missouri) of your estate. The executor will manage your estate, pay debts, and distribute property as specified. A will only takes effect upon your death and must be filed with the probate court.

To be effective, wills must be prepared following very specific legal rules. A St. Louis, Missouri will lawyer can help you plan for how your property will be distributed at your death, no matter how simple or complicated your family situation is. A thorough Missouri estate planning lawyer or Missouri will lawyer can explain the laws that govern wills and prepare documents to efficiently transfer your assets on your death.

Trusts

For many people, the best and most comprehensive estate plan includes a living trust or revocable trust. A trust does what a will can do and much more. It is also effective during your lifetime and allows you to choose someone to manage the assets funded into your trust if you become incapacitated. In addition, a revocable trust provides privacy, as it is not filed with the probate court and open to the public like a will. There are numerous other advantages to a living trust that can be explored with the help of a qualified St. Louis, Missouri trust lawyer.

Besides living trusts, there are a variety of other trusts, including irrevocable trusts, that can serve many purposes. Drafted properly, irrevocable trusts can help you qualify for government benefits, including long-term care or benefits for people who are disabled or considered to have supplemental or special needs. Some trusts can also provide asset protection and help avoid unnecessary federal and state taxes. A St. Louis, Missouri trust lawyer can create a trust to meet your needs and goals.

Powers of Attorney

Under Missouri state law, every adult has the sole authority to make decisions about their legal rights. Other people, including family members, cannot make decisions on your behalf without specific permission. This becomes a problem if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make your own decisions related to medical care, financial matters, or estate planning. It’s important to appoint someone you trust to make these decisions for you, or a court may have to appoint someone for you.

A power of attorney is a legal document you can prepare to appoint someone to make financial or medical decisions.

A health care power of attorney can name a trusted person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them, such as the type of care you would like to receive and the medical interventions you may or may not want. It should be part of your estate plan, along with your advance directive and living will, to instruct your health care power of attorney, family, and medical professionals regarding your health care wishes. A HIPAA release form ensures your agent can access your medical files to make informed decisions.

A financial power of attorney can designate an individual to make financial decisions for you, such as managing your finances, paying your bills, or protecting your legal rights. A Missouri power of attorney lawyer can also prepare limited powers of attorney for specific purposes, for example, to handle a real estate or banking transaction if you are in a different location and unable to personally sign documents.

If you or a loved one need help assessing whether a power of attorney is right for you and who that person should be, a St. Louis. MO power of attorney lawyer can help review your needs and prepare the legal documents that will work for you.

What is the Best Missouri Estate Plan for My Family and Me?

That depends on your situation and your needs. The Estate Planner will tailor your estate planning – whether trust or will-based – to meet your specific, individual needs. A Missouri estate planning attorney works hard to ensure your wishes are met. Your estate plan should protect your estate, your loved ones, and yourself. Planning for peace of mind – that’s what we do.

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