Estate Planning and Probate
Areas of Practice
Everyone needs to protect their own interests, property, and loved ones. And the need is there whether you are single or married, young or old, have children or not.
If you choose to retain my legal services, I will offer advice and draft documents — such as wills, trusts, healthcare directives (living wills), powers of attorney, deeds, and other documents — based on how you want your own estate (property and assets) to be handled both before and after your death. That way you can ensure your wishes will be executed, no matter what the future brings.
A Last Will and Testament is a document used by the probate court to determine what will happen to your estate (property and accumulated assets) after your death. I will help you formalize this process by executing a will that outlines what your wishes are. Failure to prepare your own will before your death results in the State of Missouri imposing its own version of who gets what from your estate.
A trust is a document that can control part or all of your estate (property and accumulated assets) while you are living. After your death, a trust will continue to control your estate, and assets put into the trust before your death can avoid going through the probate process.
Usually real estate holdings are one of the largest, if not the largest, assets belonging to an individual or couple. Transferring this asset at or before your death requires that a new deed or deeds be prepared.
An Advance Healthcare Directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you would want, should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions. It commonly provides direction to medical care providers as to the treatment course to take at the end of life. A healthcare directive is normally used in conjunction with a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
These documents are written authorizations for one or more individuals (or organizations) to take some action for someone else, who either doesn’t want to do the act or can’t do the act themselves. In estate planning, you are usually talking about two (2) different types of powers of attorney: one for health care and one for financial management and property.
Probate (or Probate Administration) is the process of validating a Last Will and Testament. The person who you choose as your will’s executor (now referred to as a personal representative) is responsible for making sure that your instructions are followed after your final expenses, claims, taxes, and other financial matters have been dealt with.
Trust administration means performing the duties listed in a valid trust. In the case of a Revocable Living Trust (the most popular type), this means helping the settlors/grantors (people who set up the trust) during their lifetimes, and then afterwards, fulfilling the terms of the trust with respect to the trust beneficiaries.