Estate Planning

Estate Planning – Peace of Mind

One of the most loving things that you can do for your family is to have everything in order so that they do not have to try and guess as to what your wishes are or are left with a mess in the midst of an emotionally stressful time. There are steps that you can take to memorialize your wishes and steps that you can take to keep as much of your estate out of the court as possible and protect your family’s future.

To help support your loved ones and give you peace of mind, we offer the following:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Durable Power of Attorney with Living Wills
  • Health Care Directives
  • Beneficiary Deeds

Wills:This is a document that sets forth instructions on what to do with your property. You can also set out how to provide for minor children by naming guardians (referred to as Standby Guardians in Missouri) and setting out instructions on how to handle money and property on behalf of the children.

Trusts:This is a documents that sets out a financial arrangement that allows a third party known as a Trustee to hold and manage assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. There are any number of ways that trusts can be set out.

Power of Attorney:A document that designates a person known as an Attorney in Fact to make decisions on your behalf when you become incapacitated. It can be for medical decisions, financial decisions, or, both. It is important to include a trigger or an event upon which the Power of Attorney will take effect. An example might be when two doctors agree that you are unable to make decisions. Otherwise, a power of attorney without a triggering event allows the Attorney in Fact to take over your life.

Health Care Directive:A document that allows you to set forth your wishes should you become incapacitated and end of life decisions must be made.

Beneficiary Deed:A document that allows you to transfer real estate to a beneficiary upon the death of the final owner of the real property.

Additional steps: We always recommend that you periodically review your “Transfer on Death” on any titled vehicles and “Pay on Death” for any bank accounts.  Also, be sure and check the beneficiary designations on any retirement accounts and/or insurance policies.  Too often someone will have a retirement account and then get a divorce and not think about the beneficiary designations.  Upon the person’s death the new wife may end up without nothing.  If you do not have TOD or POD designations.  For TOD you simply need to go to the DMV and get the proper forms sent in to the state.  For POD and beneficiary designations talk with your financial institutions and fill out the proper forms. Any time you go through a life change (birth of a child, adoption, divorce, death, etc.) be sure and look at your designations. Doing a little bit of work now saves your family a lot of work later.