More About Estate Planning Services: At my law office in Independence, MO I can help with many legal strategies involved in estate planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. It is surprising how many new clients often say that they do not have an estate plan. When in fact, most people will learn that they actually do have a plan. In the absence of experienced legal planning, their estate will be distributed after death according to Missouri's laws of intestacy. And this is often a plan they did not choose. A properly drafted estate plan can replace the terms of the State's estate plan with your own.
Your Last Will and Testament
A few things you should know about wills:
- A will has no legal authority until after a person's death.
- A will does not help with probate avoidance.
- A will is a good place to designate guardians for your minor children
Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.
There are many trusts which can be simple or complex. Trusts can involve legal, personal, investment or tax planning purposes. One of the advantages of a trust is to avoid probate court. This will ensure that your assets will pass on to your designated heirs upon death with no probate needed. Certain trusts can also have many tax advantages for both the trust-maker and the beneficiary.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document giving someone else (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right (powers) to handle certain things for you. All powers of attorney will terminate upon your death.
Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives)
An advance directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you would want should you lose the ability to decide for yourself. Any adult (over the age of 18) may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in Missouri. It is important for parents to realize that when their child turns age 18 they lose all rights to communicate with and receive information regarding the health care of their child. Therefore, it is highly advised that parents obtain a healthcare power of attorney for their adult children.