Estate planning is the area of law that seeks to ensure that a person’s assets are protected and are transferred to the person or party that a person intends after he or she passes away. Perhaps the most commonly known tool used in estate planning is a last will and testament, often referred to simply as a will.
While wills are certainly an important part of estate planning, there are many other tools available to estate planning attorneys to protect your assets and make sure they end up where you want them. Some of the more common are discussed below.
Wills are a legally enforceable document that detail where a person’s assets should be transferred after they pass away. In addition, a will can provide for guardianship of minor children. In order for a will to be enforceable, it must comply with certain formalities (it must be signed in the presence of witnesses, for example), so it is important for anyone who wants to create a will to speak to an attorney. One of the major downsides of a will is that property passed through one must go through probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds legal title to the trust assets for the benefit of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. The person who places the assets into the trust is called a grantor or settlor. Trusts can protect assets from creditors and have the significant benefit of being able to pass assets directly to the beneficiaries when the grantor passes away, avoid the time and expense associated with probate.
Joint Tenancy and Beneficiary Deeds
Utilizing certain types of co-ownership and beneficiary deeds are another way that an estate planning attorney can help ensure that assets pass to the intended party. Property is the owned by joint tenancy passes to the other owner automatically when the other owner passes away, and a beneficiary deed will transfer property to a named beneficiary. Both of these methods avoid property going through probate.
Call the Law Offices of Kenneth Carp Today to Speak with a St. Louis Estate Planning Lawyer
If you have any assets that you plan to leave to your family or other causes or people you care about, you should speak to an estate planning lawyer about your options. To schedule a consultation with St. Louis estate planning attorney Kenneth P. Carp, call our office today at 636-947-3600 or contact us online.