Wills Trusts & Estate Planning Law in St. Louis Missouri
Planning for your and your family’s financial future is an important issue to many people, and with good reason. Most of us work extremely hard to establish our own financial situations, and it is important to take all possible steps available to protect your assets. It is a common misconception that people hold that estate planning is only worthwhile for people who have accumulated considerable wealth. The reality is that everyone can benefit from discussing their financial situation with an experienced attorney, whether their issues are minimizing their own tax liability or the establishment of a trust. While these and other goals can be achieved without the assistance of an attorney, a lawyer can help ensure that your estate plan is in compliance with all of the relevant laws and accomplishes your goals.
A wide ranging practice
Estate planning involves developing a comprehensive plan that seeks to protect and transfer assets from one generation to another (or within a family) through the use of legal mechanisms, such as wills and trusts. These tools are established by state law, which can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many cases, certain formalities must be observed in order for a legal document or relationship to be valid, and failure to observe them may have disastrous and expensive consequences. Consequently, the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney can be invaluable and provide you with significant piece of mind. We practice in all areas related to estate planning, including the following:
These are just a few of the types of matters we handle, and if you have an issue that you do not see on this list please give us a call so we can advise you as to whether we can help.
Benefits of a Carefully Drafted Will
Anyone over the age of 18 can benefit from having a will in Missouri. Even if you believe you have little property or assets, a will can save your family a significant amount of time and money in the event of your death. This is because a will can greatly simplify the probate process.
Probate is the legal process of wrapping up a person’s estate after they pass away. If a person dies without a will in Missouri, their property and assets will be distributed by the probate court as dictated by the state intestacy laws. These laws have a specific formula for who gets your property and it may not always line up with your ideal wishes. If you do not have a spouse, children, or other close relatives, the state may take your property for itself. By having a valid will, you can make probate easier as the court will defer to the instructions in your will for estate distribution.
Benefits of Having a Trust
In addition to having a will, many people benefit from creating a trust. Trusts can help you do the following and more:
- Avoid probate for most of your property
- Protect assets from creditors
- Provide specific instructions for distributions to beneficiaries
- Put conditions on distributions (such as age limits or educational accomplishments)
- Designate who will manage your trust after your death
- Provide for children with special needs while protecting their rights to public benefits
There are different types of trusts and your experienced attorney will help you determine which trust will benefit you and your beneficiaries the most.
Providing Personalized Guidance Regarding Difficult Decisions
Wills, trusts, and estate planning all involve a variety of important – and often difficult – decisions. You must determine who should be designated to be the executor of your estate, successor trustee, and powers of attorney. Many factors should be considered when designating these individuals and often your spouse, oldest child, or another close family member may not be the best choice. Some factors to consider may include:
- Do they live in close proximity (if needed to perform their duties)?
- Do they have the time and willingness to perform their duties?
- Do they understand how to manage complex financial affairs or manage investments?
- Do they know your wishes for end-of-life care and are they willing to put those first?
- Can you trust them to be fair and not be self-dealing when administering your trust or estate?
These are only some factors that you need to consider when making important estate planning decisions, such as who will serve as your trustee or executor of your estate. Our experienced attorneys can guide and advise you through every step of the process.
When it comes to the security of your assets and your family’s future, there is no room for error. At the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp, our primary goal is to ensure that every estate planning client has a comprehensive estate plan that protects their own well-being, their wealth, and the interests of their beneficiaries. It is never too early to begin discussing your estate plan, especially if you have a spouse, children, or own property and assets. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (636) 947-3600.