What is Estate Planning?
An estate plan is a set of legal instructions for what will happen to your assets once you have passed, outlining what you wish to protect – and how – for your loved ones in the future. Estate planning is the process through which your estate plan is created and should involve a combination of pragmatism, compassion and rational decision-making without losing sight of the emotions that come with such a task.
We may only get one chance to plan our estates, and how we do so will have a profound impact on our families and loved ones. Often, estate-planning mistakes happen after it’s too late. Each family has different needs and concerns. Your estate plan must be designed for your particular family situation. Working with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney can help you and your loved ones to craft an estate plan fit for your needs.
Estate Planning Checklist for Joplin & Springfield, Missouri
Each estate plan in Missouri is uniquely different. Your estate plan may include a mix of different documents, such as:
- A Will
- A Trust
- A Durable Power of Attorney
- A Healthcare Proxy
- And/or Guardianship
The documents included in your Missouri estate plan will depend on your estate’s size and structure and the individual needs and wishes you would like executed on your behalf. Like the attorneys at The Law Office of Christopher W. Dumm, an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney, will assist you with crafting the perfect estate plan for your legal needs.
Do I Need a Will or a Trust in Missouri?
Depending on your specific estate, you may need a will or a trust or even both legal documents.
A will is a written document that outlines your intentions after you pass away, dispose of your property, and inherit your property. As part of your estate plan, a will must go through probate court in Missouri.
When a loved one passes away, their estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate, or estate administration, where the deceased’s assets are managed and distributed. Most individuals are concerned about the strain that this will put on their families. However, if your loved one owned his or her assets through a well-drafted and properly-funded living trust, no court-managed administration is likely necessary.
A trust is a legal document that helps you or a loved one avoid probate. Upon drafting your estate plan, the trust acts as the owner of your property. Once a trust is drafted, the trust then owns your property, and it cannot be altered. Once you or a loved one passes, your designated beneficiaries will receive the assets in your trust.
If you have a trust established, a will can provide an additional layer of protection for any new or old property, which was not addressed when the trust was first established. If you plan on including all your property in your trust, then a will is not needed in Missouri. Overall, each estate plan is different, so working with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney can help you and your loved one decide which legal documents would be best to include in your estate plan.
The Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm helps you and your loved ones understand Elder Law, Asset Protection, Probate, Medicaid Planning, Special Needs Planning, Tax Planning, and Business Planning. We welcome you to contact our Joplin and Springfield, Missouri offices to learn more about how we can help meet your estate planning needs.