Common Questions About Estate Planning
At The Quitmeier Law Firm, a large part of our role is to answer questions that clients and potential clients bring to our attention, such as those below.
Who should create an estate plan and when?
Every adult of any age who has assets and/or family members or charitable causes that they care about should have at least a will in place. Anytime is a good time to discuss your goals with an estate planning lawyer.
What will happen if I die without an estate plan?
Failure to create a will can leave the disposition of your assets totally in the hands of a probate court. The outcome may be quite different than what you would have preferred.
What elements should my estate plan include?
Besides a will, your estate plan should also ideally include powers of attorney and a health care directive or living will. A complete estate plan may include one or more trusts and/or transfer-on-death (TOD) deeds for your house, car or boat.
What are ways to help my family avoid probate and estate taxes?
You can give your children (or other recipients) gifts of up to $16,000 per person per year with no tax consequences. One or more trusts and/or title designations for your home may enable your spouse or other beneficiaries to bypass probate court and minimize taxes.
What are the benefits of a trust?
With a living trust, you can put your assets into your trust. You can be the trustee and maintain complete control of your assets during your lifetime. Then if you become incapacitated, or when you die, your successor trustee can take over managing your assets easily, with no probate process.
What are the benefits of a TOD?
In Missouri, you can leave real estate to someone with a transfer-on-death deed, also known as a beneficiary deed, with no involvement by the probate court. The transfer of the asset will only happen when you die.
How can I prevent a will contest or probate litigation over my assets or a family member’s assets?
Make sure your will is signed correctly. Destroy any old wills. Review your legal affairs, such as your real estate holdings, with an attorney periodically. If you are the executor of an estate, work with a lawyer for help fulfilling your fiduciary duties.