At Wiseheart Kaiser Law Firm, we understand how overwhelming and confusing the estate planning process can be, especially if you are dealing with a probate issue. Each individual has different properties, a different financial portfolio and their own set of needs and expectations. Our attorneys understand the importance of creating clear, customized plans for each individual, and we know how important it is for our clients to understand what we do each step of the way.
The estate planning process and other areas of elder law can be extremely complex, which is why our attorneys are dedicated to providing our clients with the information necessary to help them make informed decisions. If you have a question about estate planning, probate court, or elder law, our St. Louis lawyers at Wiseheart Kaiser Law Firm can help.
WHY DO I NEED A WILL?
Without a will, your assets will not be transferred to your heirs according to your wishes, but by virtue of Missouri Statutes. If you do not have a will, your estate will go through probate court, which is often more expensive and far more complicated. Also, if you have a minor child, a will can be used to appoint a legal guardian in the event of your death. Without a will, your child’s guardian will also be selected by the court, despite your anticipated choice.
IF I HAVE A WILL, THEN WHY WOULD I WANT A REVOCABLE TRUST?
Establishing a revocable trust can help avoid the potential expenses and delays that come with probate administration both during your life and upon your death. A will, on the other hand, does not avoid the troubles of probate. If you become incapacitated, your trustee named in your revocable trust can manage the assets without court intervention. And, upon your death, the trustee can continue to manage the assets and distribute them according to the terms outlined in your trust document, also without court intervention. A trust can also reduce or eliminate potential estate taxes against your assets and allow for more privacy than documents filed through the court.
WHAT DOES FUNDING MY TRUST MEAN?
In order for your trust to continue to work as a planning tool, the appropriate assets must be titled in the name of your trust. Funding a revocable trust means that your assets have been transferred into the trust.
IF I HAVE A WILL, WHY WOULD I WANT TO HAVE A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
Durable powers of attorney can be used to give others authority to act during your lifetime. While a will only becomes effective upon your death, a durable power of attorney can be used while you live. It is a document that appoints a specific person with the legal authority to make decisions for you, the creator of the trust, in the event that you are unable to do so. Durable power of attorney eliminates the need for court intervention.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I'M INJURED AND I DON'T HAVE A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
If you do not have a durable power of attorney and you become incapacitated due to an injury or illness, the court will appoint a conservator or guardian for you. Usually, this will be your closest relative, a spouse, or an adult child. Unfortunately, without a durable power of attorney document, the court will not be able to ascertain your wishes. When the court appoints a conservator or guardian, the resulting process can be extremely expensive and time-consuming, usually resulting in additional stress for your loved ones.