Estate Planning Lawyer Wentzville, MO

Wentzville, Missouri Estate Planning Lawyer

estate planning lawyer Wentzville, MO

As sad as it is, death is a natural part of life, and that is why having an estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, Missouri is important. We all have an estate, as it is by definition everything you own, including property, vehicles, jewelry, stocks, and money. What happens after you die, though? That is where an estate plan comes into place and why a lawyer will be vital to making sure your after-death instructions are easy to follow for your family. 

The planning process can be overwhelming, emotional, and stressful, and that is why going at it alone isn’t in your best interest. Hiring a lawyer like a dedicated member of the team at Legacy Law Center is essential. 

What is an Estate Planning Lawyer

This is the type of lawyer that you may know as just an estate law or probate lawyer. They help in the estate planning process by putting your wishes for incapacity and death into writing. They will ensure that you are presented with options to ensure your goals are carried out after your death. 

As well as the ability to help you with planning, these lawyers know the state and federal laws to make sure everything upon your death is taken care of. This can be anything from properly inventorying your estate to managing tax payments after death.

What an Estate Planning Lawyer Handles 

It seems relatively straightforward that the estate planning lawyer is going to handle the planning. Because it can be a complicated process, here are what some of the essential job duties of an estate planning lawyer are: 

  • They help with the creation and implementation of legal documents such as wills and trusts 
  • They designate beneficiaries and establish a durable power of attorney
  • They meet with relatives and close friends of those involved with the estate
  • They organize and arrange the transfer of assets to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries
  • They develop solutions to rescue taxes or fees imposed on the estate 
  • They establish restrictions, when necessary, on the estate to ensure the deceased wishes are carried out properly
  • They handle retirements plans, life insurance policies, and charitable contributions

As you can see, they handle a massive amount of information. You could handle most of it on your own, but the process can be overwhelming. This is why having a lawyer on your side will reduce the amount of time you spend planning for your estate after death. Unless you have a law degree, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer for help. Even those with law experience can often use another lawyer to make sure everything is done correctly, and there are no easy mistakes. 

If you are thinking about crafting a will or just what to do with your estate, consider contacting an estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, MO. You shouldn’t have to do this process alone, as it can get overwhelming quickly. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Legacy Law Center. 

4 Assets That Don’t Go Through Probate

When you die, your will has to go through a process called probate. Probate is a legal proceeding where your will is validated, your executor is approved and your assets distributed to your heirs. You may believe that all of your belongings have to go through the probate process, but that’s not true. There are several types of assets that avoid the probate process altogether.

Life Insurance

Life insurance policies are set up with beneficiaries anmed at the time of purchase. The only time your life insurance would have to go through probate is if you named your estate the beneficiary, which is exceedingly rare. There are different ways to set up a life insurance payout, including lump sums, annuities and installments.

Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403 (b)s, IRAs and annuities also have beneficiaries named when you set them up. You’ll want to make sure your heirs know that if they take money out of the accounts, they’ll have to pay taxes on it. This is the only type of inheritance that can be taxed. Your estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, MO, at Legacy Law Center can help you minimize the tax burden on your heirs.

Property Inside a Living Trust

A living trust is a legal vehicle where you can transfer your assets and still enjoy the use of them while you are still alive. You’ll name a trustee and beneficiaries of the trust in the event of your death. Those assets can then be immediately passed to your heirs without going through probate. 

There are two types of living trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable living trust can be changed while you’re still alive. You can name yourself the trustee and retain control of your assets. However, assets in a revocable living trust could be subject to estate taxes. In an irrevocable living trust, someone else is the trustee, and you lose certain rights regarding control of the trust. A Legacy Law Center estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, MO, can help you set up a living trust.

Property Held in Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is a way to ensure large assets like your home or vehicles immediately pass to the other party whose name is on the ownership documents. For example, if you and your spouse both have your names on the deed to your home, and you’ve set up a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, when you die, your spouse automatically inherits the house. You’ll definitely want an estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, MO, to help you set up joint tenancy.

Estate Planning Questions Answered

While no person truly wants to think about their ultimate demise, it’s inevitable, and an estate planning lawyer from Wentzville, MO, can play a critical role in ensuring that all necessary plans are in place when the time comes. Many people put estate plans off for another day, but it’s essential to prioritize them. The Legacy Law Center is equipped with a team of professionals who can help you manage the estate planning process with ease. When encroaching upon the estate planning process, you will undoubtedly have questions about the process. When you work with our team, you will not only have satisfaction in knowing that you have a solid plan in place that outlines your lasting wishes. 

Are estate plans just for the end of life?

While estate planning is vital for planning for your passing, it’s important to note that they do much more than that. An estate plan helps a person to outline their wishes when several situations arise. Unfortunately for some, the unexpected might occur, and the contents of an estate plan will be necessary. An estate plan includes health care directives that outline your wishes should you be in a situation where you cannot make decisions on your own. An advanced health care directive can also save loved ones the complex process of agonizing over medical decisions. 

When is the right time to put together an estate plan?

It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy elite; in fact, nearly everyone should consider putting together an estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t need to be put off until your retirement; people should consider developing an estate plan when they reach the legal age to do so. 

How does an estate plan differ from the last will and testament?

Our estate planning lawyer from Wentzville, Missouri, shares that a will is just one document within an estate plan. The will outlines a plan for distributing assets and identifies guardianship if you have children. The estate plan is a comprehensive set of documents used while a person is still living and when they pass away. An estate plan is made up of the following:

  • The Last Will and Testament
  • Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Directives
  • Trusts
  • Letter of Intent
  • Guardianship Designations

What are the risks of dying without a will or estate plan?

Dying without a will or estate plan in place can be detrimental for several reasons. With no plan for how you would like your wishes carried out, there will be confusion over how your assets should be dispersed. Unfortunately, when this occurs, several issues will arise. When a person passes without a will, they have died intestate, and most assets will need to pass through probate. The courts will then decide what happens. Additionally, when there is no plan for the family to follow, it’s not uncommon for familial discord to arise. 

Why do I need a lawyer for an estate plan?

While there are certainly DIY estate planning options, it’s always in your best interest to retain the services of an estate planning lawyer. Estate planning lawyers can offer guidance for how your estate plan should be designed and valid under state and federal laws. 

The Legacy Law Center offers services for prospective clients that meet all of their estate planning needs. Please don’t delay in outlining your wishes another moment; initiate the process by scheduling a meeting with our Wentzville, MO, estate planning lawyer.

Special Estate Planning Considerations for Cohabitating Seniors

Studies in recent years show that more and more seniors are choosing to cohabitate with their partners rather than getting married. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, individuals older than 50 make up the fastest-growing segment of unmarried couples in the United States. These couples cite financial concerns, including debt, benefits, and taxes, as the primary reason for choosing to live together but not marry. If you are in this situation, you should be aware of some unique estate planning considerations that may apply in your circumstances. An estate planning lawyer in Wentzville, MO can help.

Medical and Financial Decision-Making Powers

If you and your partner are not married, you will have no power to make any decisions on his or her behalf should he or she become incapacitated due to illness or an accident. This includes medical decisions and financial decisions. If you want your partner to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf, you should sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release that gives your partner the ability to receive information about your medical condition and treatment.

A Wentzville, MO estate planning lawyer can also help you execute a power of attorney for healthcare purposes, which allows your partner to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. To the extent that you want your partner to be able to make financial and other legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated, you can sign a durable power of attorney that will permit him or her to do so.

Will Updates

If you recently decided to live with a partner, but not marry, you should immediately update your will so that it reflects your wishes as to any personal property and real estate that you own. This is particularly important if only one spouse owns the home in which you are living together. If something happened to the spouse who owns the home, the other spouse would have no legal right to remain in the home for any length of time or any claim to any personal property. As a result, if you wish your partner to be able to remain in the home for a set period or until his or her death, you must execute a will that specifically outlines your wishes in that regard.

Call Our Office Today

At the Legacy Law Center, we can provide you with comprehensive estate plans that are tailored to your specific needs, such as the unique needs of cohabitating seniors. If you are in this situation, there are steps that you need to take in order to ensure that your legal and financial wishes and intentions are firmly put into place. Please contact our office today and schedule an appointment with a Wentzville, MO estate planning lawyer, and learn how we can help you set the optimal estate plan in place.