Estate Planning 101

Estate Planning can seem like an overwhelming process. Below is some important basic information about how to approach your estate plan. Contact me to set up a free consultation to get started with your family’s Estate Plan.

What is an Estate Plan?

An Estate Plan is a group of choices that we make using a trust or will that distributes our wealth after death or disability to our spouse and family and the religious, charitable or civic organizations that we want to support.

Why plan?

A plan will provide for your spouse, family and the religious, charitable or civic organizations after death in ways that fit the family’s different needs and personalities. It gives us a chance to design the plan that fits our family’s strengths and weaknesses. It also protects our family from the squabbles and sometimes very serious disagreements that destroy the love and concern that we want our children to have for one another.

Who should plan?

All of us who care about our families! The interesting thing is that all of us do have an Estate Plan. The state of Missouri and all other states have a statutory plan that distributes a deceased person’s property after death. But it’s a “one size fits all” plan that doesn’t work well in many situations. We have spent years doing the hard work and making the effort to raise a family and it doesn’t make sense to leave the decisions that distribute our wealth to our family to the Missouri legislature.

Isn’t holding property in joint tenancy a good Estate Plan?

Joint tenancy (all joint tenants are 100% owners of the bank account or real estate) is a convenience that works well for married couples. But it’s often a bad plan for the surviving spouse. There are thousands of cases in which a child who is a joint tenant takes money for his or her needs or refuses to share property that was intended for everyone with brothers and sisters after the mother or father has died.

Why should we use an attorney experienced in Estate Planning?

Let’s face it we are a nation of “Do it yourselfers.” Most of us have gotten out a wrench to fix the sink or changed out an electrical switch. But when we do that, we know that we can call a plumber or electrician if we can’t fix the problem. When an Estate Plan doesn’t work, we can’t call an Estate Planning Attorney from the funeral home. Attorneys who focus on Estate Planning have the experience and knowledge to help us create Estate Plans that avoid legal disasters and accomplish our goals.

When should I plan?

It is difficult to accept the fact that someday we will die and leave our families. We don’t like to think about it. So the time to consult with an Estate Planning attorney is when you have been reminded again that someday you will not be here to help your spouse and family care for themselves. Your estate plan gives them the benefit of your thoughts and guidance about their future.

How do I get started?

Begin now by calling me for a free consultation where we can discuss your goals and concerns and with my help prepare a thoughtful and thorough plan that will care for your loved ones in the future. I can make the Estate Planning process simple and prepare it in a timely manner.