Estate Planning Attorney in Independence, Missouri

At Stilley Law Office, we specialize in Estate Planning. A comprehensive estate plan usually includes a whole suite of documents including Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Healthcare Directives. Each of these constituent parts is important for its own reasons. A properly planned Estate is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. When you pass on, your family will have a lot to deal with both emotionally and physically, the last thing they should have to worry about is administering an estate that has not been planned. Surveys show that 35% of Americans have personally experienced, or know someone who has experienced family conflict because of improper estate planning. We do not use cookie-cutter, boiler-plate solutions, instead we personalize every estate plan to the individual client’s needs. 

Estate planning is not only for the super wealthy, or only for the elderly. Regardless of your assets or your age, estate planning is an important process. Estate planning is not a matter of how many assets someone has. The sum of all of your possessions and monetary assets constitutes your estate, and whether your estate is worth $25,000 or $250,000 it still needs to be administered upon your death.  None of us can predict the future, and planning for every contingency is just good sense.

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Last Will and Testament

The most well-known document in an estate plan is the Last Will and Testament. A Will is important because it allows you to dictate how you want your estate to be distributed and administered upon your passing. According to a survey by Caring.com, 2 out of 3 Americans do not have a will in place. Dying without a will, called intestate, causes a multitude of issues. When you die intestate, the Probate Court decides how your estate will be administered by following the laws of inheritance. This includes distributing your assets, and determining who will administer your estate. A will allows you to avoid this by naming a personal representative, and listing how you want your estate administered. One common misconception, however, is that a will allows you to avoid probate altogether. This is not true, your estate still needs to go through the probate process. But a will helps streamline, and simplify the probate process. At Stilley Law Office, we offer full will drafting and execution services. We will work with you to craft your will how you want. 

Trusts 

Trusts can be very beneficial, but it depends on every individual’s needs to determine whether they need a trust or not. A trust is an agreement between one party with another party to have assets held by a third party. Whether your situation could benefit from a trust depends on several factors. These factors include, but aren’t limited to, number of beneficiaries, whether you have beneficiaries who are minors, and length of asset distribution. Trusts are beneficial because they allow a great deal of flexibility. First and foremost, assets in a trust avoid probate. Also, a revocable living trust allows for the terms of the trust to be changed at any time. Irrevocable trusts can allow large estates to avoid some estate taxes. A trust also allows you to decide not only who will get certain assets, but when they will get those assets. You can also dictate how certain assets are used. Another benefit of a trust is unlike a will, which is a public record, trusts can be kept private. At Stilley Law we also specialize in Trust Administration. Our individual and personalized approach allows us to maximize your benefits from a trust if your situation is a good fit. 

Powers of Attorney 

Arguably the most important estate planning documents to have prepared are Durable Powers of Attorney for General and Healthcare purposes. A DPA allows you to name someone to act as your “Attorney in Fact” (agent) to make financial and healthcare decisions for you in the case of incapacitation. Many people don’t know that if someone is over the age of 18, not even their parents can make decisions for them without being specifically designated to do so. This is why Powers of Attorney are so important. For example, say someone is in a car wreck and is in a coma. Without a Power of Attorney in place, no one would be able to pay the person’s bills, or decide what treatments should be performed. Stilley Law Office offers Powers of Attorney for both General and Healthcare purposes as a part of our estate planning services.  

Advanced Healthcare Directives 

Advanced Healthcare Directives also known as Living Wills are similar to Powers of Attorney in that they allow for decisions to be made in the case of someone’s incapacitation. But, Living Wills only apply when someone is ill or injured beyond the point of a reasonable presumption of recovery. A Living Will allows you to decide whether you want to be kept alive by artificial means in a situation like this. It authorizes what sort of medical procedures you would or would not want performed, and also allows you to decide whether you would want to be resuscitated or not. Stilley Law Office offers full Living Will drafting services.