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               As an experienced estate planning lawyer St. Charles, I spend much of my time explaining to clients what estate planning is and how it works.  Estate planning is the use of legal documents to not only distribute your assets when you pass away, but to name people to make decisions for you if you become disabled and/or incapacitated.

Overview of Estate Planning Documents

Common estate planning documents include a living trust, last will and testament, medical power of attorney, healthcare directive and financial power of attorney.

A living trust can help you avoid probate and provide rules about when your beneficiaries receive their inheritance.  An example would be creating a provision where your beneficiary only receives their inheritance when they reach a certain age.  That age is up to you and depends on your specific situation.

As one of the top estate planning lawyer St. Charles, you can count on me to also review the purpose of having a last will and testament, which is another document which can distribute property when you pass away.  If you have a living trust, the will usually leaves the property to the trust, not directly to a beneficiary.

Power of attorney documents allow you to name a spouse to make financial and healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  An example would be naming your adult children to do banking for you if you had dementia.  A medical power of attorney could name the same adult child to work with doctors if the dementia advanced to a point where you were considered mentally incapacitated by a doctor.

Choosing the Right Estate Planning Lawyer

You should feel comfort with the skill level and personality of any lawyer you meet with.  Many attorneys practice in too many areas of law, which reduces their effectiveness in all areas of law that they practice.  Therefore, you should focus on choosing a lawyer that practices almost exclusively in this area.

Making estate planning decisions is intensely personal due to everyone having different family dynamics, levels of wealth and health and concerns about the ability of children to make smart decisions if they inherit your nest egg.  There are many different components to determining how your estate plan is created and it’s important that we discuss all of the aspects that help you identify these components.

An initial meeting to discuss your situation will include who should be in charge of distributing your inheritance, who your beneficiaries are and specifics about their personality and what assets you have.  Our focus is always on identifying client concerns and worries, client goals and educating clients on how the documents we are drafting resolve their concerns and accomplish their goals.  If you’re in need of an estate planning lawyer St. Charles, contact Legacy Law Center today.


FREE Missouri Estate Planning Guide

FREE Missouri Estate Planning Guide

Free Missouri Estate Planning Guide


Family of Robin Williams Involved In Estate Litigation

Family of Robin Williams Involved In Estate Litigation


Mr.  Williams hanged himself last year at his home in California.  He apparently had created an estate plan but a dispute has resulted between his wife and his children over the distribution of his personal property (a very common source of disagreement in many estates) and the cash needed by wife to maintain the home which was distributed to her out of the estate.  Given the wealth of the late actor, we can assume the home was large and thus the annual maintenance to keep it up was a number which could be (and is being) disputed between the children and the wife.

Arguably, these details could have been included in the estate plan created by Mr. Williams.  The annual maintenance costs in prior years could have been figured and an estimated figure obtained, assuming higher costs in the future.  Nevertheless, it appears that was not done and now his survivors are fighting it out in court.  This not only wastes time and energy, but creates bad blood among family members, all of whom have undoubtedly been devastated by the loss of their father and husband.

The lesson here is that estate litigation can be avoided with proper and thorough estate planning.  The estate plan here probably just needed to be more specific as to the maintenance costs for the home for the wife.  As the article states, however, the family has already received many differences which is good to hear.  Often estate litigation cases can drag on for years without a resolution and their costs can be staggering.

What is an ancillary probate?

What is an ancillary probate?

Simplification du droit


An ancillary probate refers to a probate proceeding that is required in addition to a primary probate proceeding that will take place in your home state. Typically ancillary probate will be necessary because you own a piece of real estate that is located outside of your home state, although it could apply to tangible personal property such as a car, boat, or airplane, that is registered and titled outside of your home state, or livestock or oil, gas, or mineral rights that are attached to real estate located outside of your home state.

Like the original probate proceeding in the state in which you passed away, the ancillary probate proceeding is also costly, time consuming and complicated.  And just like the original probate proceeding, your goal should be to avoid it.  Here is how…

Let’s say Wilma is 80 years old and her husband William recently passed away.  Wilma lives in Missouri but she owns a second home with William in California.  Since the property is in both their names, once Williams passes, Wilma owns the second home all to herself.  All of the assets of the couple were jointly held, so William’s passing results in the same result, Wilma now owns everything and no probate is necessary.  Wilma has not done any estate planning, however.  If she wants to keep the California home, the best fit might be a living trust.  With the living trust, Wilma can ensure all of her assets in Missouri are owned by the trust and she can record a deed so that her trust owns the California property.  Since the trust owns the property, when Wilma dies there will be no need for an ancillary probate.

A living trust has many positive benefits for individuals and families, but as you can see, it can be especially helpful to people who own property in another state.