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Wills, Trusts, Estates And Probate Law

Use “transfer on death” (TOD or POD) to help your family avoid probate court. Wills are tickets to probate court. TOD designations circumvent costly and time-consuming probate court.

Estate planning involves more than wills and trusts. Missouri, Kansas, and most other states have adopted TOD laws to allow people to transfer property such as homes, cars and bank accounts automatically on their death to their named beneficiaries, without the tedious, costly probate court process.  TODs do not hamper lifetime ownership rights.

Your minor children can only inherit $10,000 without a conservatorship estate being opened so you can TOD your property into a trust for the benefit of minor or incapacitated children.

At The Quitmeier Law Firm, we will provide you information and direction to transfer your assets on death in the most efficient manner. We will help you assure the pension, retirement and profit-sharing plans properly designate beneficiaries and that property is correctly titled, so your family and you avoid probate court.

Ways To Get Around Estate Taxes

Do you really want your family members to have to pay federal estate taxes after your death? What is commonly referred to as the “death tax” can take up to 20% of your total assets in the end. Explore alternatives with our attorneys’ experienced guidance at The Quitmeier Law Firm.

The federal estate tax (death tax) exemption and tax rate are subject to frequent change by Congress. Please contact us for updated information on the amount of assets allowed through current exemptions and rates. We may be able to advise you on ways to potentially avoid the estate tax entirely.

When one dies with property in their sole name, that property must pass through the delays and costs of probate court. Heirs must open an estate, post a bond, notify creditors, document inventories, pay filing fees, pay attorneys’ fees and spend large chunks of their own time. Discuss with one of our attorneys some ways to protect your family or chosen charitable causes from such burdens.

Parents Of Minors: Learn About How To Watch Out For Your Children’s Possible Futures

If parents do not recommend guardians for their children in their wills, their children’s futures could end up in the hands of a judge

Everyone should have an estate plan. Wills and trusts are particularly important for families with minor children. Wills can designate who should raise the children if both parents are deceased. Otherwise, court hearings and potential family litigation ensue.

Laws typically provide that minor children cannot own assets in excess of $10,000. Thus, without a trust, the inherited money is supervised by the court with accompanying attorney fees and court costs. The court may not allow expenditures that you would have chosen for your children. Equally problematic, when your child reaches the age of 18, they will then receive the entire rest of their inheritance without restrictions.

Trusts alleviate both problems by providing for your choice of the guardian who would raise your children if you die while they are underage, and a trustee who will invest the assets and distribute your children’s inheritance according to your instructions. The guardian role disappears when the child turns 18 (the age of majority), but you can have your trustee continue to be in charge of the money until the child reaches a more mature age.

The trust can spell out for your trustee the expenditures you want paid for (such as braces and college tuition) and restricts other expenditures (since inherited money is notoriously squandered).

What About Stepchildren?

If you are married to someone but have separate children, the problems regarding guardianships and inheritances may become particularly acute. An estate planning lawyer can help you and your spouse put together documents designed to protect your respective children’s wellbeing as thoughtfully as you can.

Other Estate Planning Issues

Everyone should have a durable power of attorney for health care, a HIPPA authorization (the right to see medical records) and a durable power of attorney for financial matters.

If we advise you, we will also recommend that you keep a list of all your assets and how to get access to them. If you fail to do this, the trouble that your family may experience is hard to even fathom. A well-designed estate plan is literally worth its weight in gold for many people.

Turn To Knowledgeable, Dependable Estate Planning Attorneys

Please do not purchase a form for estate planning on the internet. The lawyers at The Quitmeier Law Firm will explain estate planning issues so you understand how to accomplish your specific goals.

We can help you with estate tax issues if you have a large enough taxable estate, and advise you on how to make your life insurance truly protect your beneficiaries.

Please reach out to us by email or by phone at 816-340-6738 for an initial consultation to discuss your estate plan, ideally coordinated with your spouse’s estate plan, if applicable.

Note: The federal estate tax (death tax) exemption and tax rate are subject to frequent change by Congress. Please contact us for updated information on the amount of current exemptions and rates, and how to potentially avoid paying the estate tax entirely.