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What is an estate plan?

A set of documents and written decisions that set out your wishes for personal, medical, and financial decisions if you become incapacitated and at your death. Your estate is everything you own, including your home, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, employee benefits, life insurance, cryptocurrency, and personal belongings.

Who needs an estate plan?

Everyone needs an estate plan. Everyone needs a plan in place so their loved ones know who is making decisions during any period of incapacity and what decisions need to be made at someone’s death. Whether you need an estate plan does not depend on how wealthy you are. Whether you need an estate plan also does not depend on how old you are. Even young families need an estate plan to, at a minimum, appoint a guardian for minor children.

What documents are included in an estate plan?

Most estate plans include a trust and certificate or affidavit of trust, a will, a general durable financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, an advance directive or living will, a HIPPA release, and personal property memorandum. Some estate plans just include the will and do not include the trust. Our estate plans also include specific instructions for funding your trust, a remembrance memorandum, property deeds, and the transfer of business interests to your trust.

What are powers of attorney?

A health care power of attorney is a document that appoints someone else to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. A financial power of attorney appoints someone else to make financial decisions for you. It can be effective immediately or can be springing – meaning effective if you are incapacitated. Powers of attorney are no longer effective after your death.

What’s the difference between a will and a trust?

A will is a document that explains your wishes after you die and appoints a guardian for your minor children. It is public, must be filed with the probate court, and is only effective after your death. A trust is a private document that is effective while you are living and after your death and explains your wishes during incapacity and after you die. It’s not a publicly filed document. Learn more about the difference between a trust and a will.

How much will my estate plan cost?

This depends on the type of estate plan that best fits your and your family’s unique needs.  You will know the price for your estate plan before you engage us to prepare it. There are no hidden charges or surprises.

Can’t I just do this myself online?

Do-it-Yourself estate planning documents may be better than nothing, but they are often more costly than you might expect, may have unintended consequences, and may not meet the requirements to be valid under state law. You are best served by working with an estate planning professional who can guide you through the process, answer your questions, and create an estate plan that meets your and your family’s unique needs.

How frequently should I update my estate plan?

We recommend that you review your estate plan at least every three years and more frequently if your life changes. Changes that may necessitate updating your estate plan include births or deaths, marriage or divorce, buying new real estate, and a change, whether good or bad, in your financial situation.

What happens if I don’t have an estate plan?

Without an estate plan, Missouri’s intestate succession law will determine who your property goes to and how it is distributed. A court will decide who the guardian of your children will be. Other court proceedings may be required to choose people to make health care or financial decisions for you if you can’t. This can be a time-consuming, expensive, and complex process.

How long will it take to prepare my estate plan?

It usually takes six to eight weeks from the first time you meet with us to prepare and execute your estate planning documents through the final signing date. We will have three meetings: the first is the initial consultation, the second is a review of your drafts, and the third is to sign your documents and discuss the funding process. We answer your questions so you are confident in reaching your estate plan goals and work with you to make sure your trust is funded.

Can I change my estate plan after it’s signed?

You can change your estate plan anytime you wish. If, however, your estate plan includes an irrevocable trust instead of the typical revocable living trust, making changes is more complex.

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