Wills Springfield MO, Trusts Springfield MO

Will Springfield MO.  A will is a formal document, signed by the person making the will, and signed by two witnesses and a notary public, which tells the world how that person wishes to distribute his or her property at the time of death.  If you don’t have a will, and you are single at the time of your death, then your property will be divided and distributed by the probate court to your relatives according to a distribution scheme established by Missouri law.  If you don’t have a will, but you are married and own all of your property jointly with your spouse, then at your death your spouse will receive all of your property, but at your spouse’s death, the property will be divided and distributed by the probate court, again, according to a distribution scheme under Missouri law.  A will does not avoid probate, but it does insure that your property is distributed to whom you want and in whatever shares you wish, not according to a distribution scheme established by the state of Missouri.

Avoiding Probate.   Missouri has a non-probate transfer law that allows people to transfer any piece of property to another person free of probate with the transfer to take effect only upon the death of the person making the transfer.  For instance, your home may be transferred upon death by beneficiary deed but only if the deed is recorded prior to your death.  Any furniture or other tangible personal property in your home may be transferred by beneficiary bill of sale.  Your vehicles may be transferred by means of a TOD (transfer on death) notation being placed on the titles.  Your bank accounts may be transferred by means of a POD (pay on death) notation being placed on the accounts.  When you make beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement plans, any money from those sources will go to those beneficiaries, again, free from probate court intervention.  Any interest you may have in a business may also be transferred by an assignment to a loved one.  The main disadvantage of the non-probate transfer law is when a minor is named and then receives property after the death of a parent.  A minor cannot hold title to property, so in this circumstance, a guardianship or conservatorship will have to be set up in probate court to manage the property until the minor comes of age.  The lesson here is that the non-probate transfer law has limitations and can result in probate court involvement despite the best efforts of people to avoid probate.

Trust Springfield MO.  A trust may be contained in a will for minors or disabled people who are to receive property under the will.  Most often, though, a trust is established outside and separate from a will.  This kind of trust is often called a living trust, and it can be made revocable or irrevocable.  The most common trust is the revocable living trust, which may be amended or revoked at a later time.  In a revocable living trust, the person setting up the trust, called the “grantor,” signs the document and then places all of his or her property into the trust.  The grantor, while living, retains complete control over the property placed in the trust.  At the grantor’s death, the trustee assumes control of the trust and the property in the trust, pays debts, and then distributes the property to the persons named in the trust.  This kind of trust has two distinct advantages:  (1) if done right, it will avoid probate on all of the property placed in the trust; and (2) if federal or state estate taxes are a concern, the trust may be drafted to limit as much as possible the amount of estate taxes payable at the death of the grantor.

As an estate planning lawyer, I draft wills and trusts, and I help my clients avoid probate under the non-probate transfer law.  We can schedule an appointment for you soon after you call us, we will answer your questions about the estate planning process, and we will draft documents for your review prior to signing.  Our goal is to provide qualityestate planning quickly and efficiently for our clients.

“James Endicott was wonderful!  He helped me understand how the estate planning process works and what I needed to have in place for my situation.  He was very professional and knowledgeable, and he delivered promptly.  I’ve recommended him to others!”

Barron Hilton, Global Designs, LLC
Springfield, Missouri