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Chesterfield Estate Planning Blog

4 reasons you might need to update your estate plan

Years ago, you went to a lawyer and drew up a will, trust and other documents so that your family would be financially secure if you should suddenly pass away. That is the right thing to do, but have you taken a look at your estate plan lately?

If you do, you might be surprised how out of date some of the things in your plan are. You may have heirs or beneficiaries who are no longer in your life - or there are people you love who are not mentioned. Here are four reasons you might need to amend your estate plan.

What are revocable living trusts and why are they helpful?

Like many people in Missouri and elsewhere, the last thing you may want to do is to consider your own mortality. However, you do want to provide for the loved ones you will leave behind. We at Hamra Law Firm LLC understand the considerations that go into estate planning, and we've helped many people craft plans that include living revocable trusts to protect their assets and provide for their heirs.

According to FindLaw, trusts are a type of legal instrument used in estate planning to specify how your estate should be managed during your lifetime, as well as after your death. When a trust is created during your lifetime, as opposed to after your death, it is known as a living trust. Revocable living trusts allow you to modify or revoke them at any time.

Should you create a trust?

Most estate planning lawyers will try to push you into creating a trust, but the truth is that the use of beneficiary designations and/or wills can sometimes get the job done just as well as a trust would. Additionally, trusts are usually more expensive than Wills and beneficiary designations, making trust formation a big purchase most individuals and therefore, should not be undertaken lightly. That said, there are several circumstances in which creating a trust for your Missouri estate would be the most beneficial thing to do. Forbes weighs the pros and cons of creating a trust so you can make a more informed decision.

One of the first factors you want to consider is how much of your estate you can shield from probate. Probate is costly and can take several months to several years to complete. For many, this alone is reason enough to create a trust. However, before you invest in a trust, consider how many of your assets are actually subject to probate. For instance, jointly owned assets with rights of survivorship such as annuities, life insurance policies and retirement accounts are not subject to probate. Nor are bank or investment accounts for which you filled out a "payable on death" or "transfer on death" form. To access these accounts, all your beneficiaries would have to do is show up at the institution with your death certificate and a valid form of identification. If many of your assets are already accounted for, a trust may be a frivolous expenditure.

Should you get started on your will?

Missouri residents all across the board often put off preparing their wills, which is entirely normal. However, with the help of Hamra Law Firm, LLC, you can go through the process as easily and quickly as possible.

When you begin to look into preparing your will, there are a number of things that you want to keep in mind. The first set of items involves knowing what wills can do for you. With a will, you can:

  • Elect if you want a simplified administration or one overseen by the court
  • Designate guardians for anyone under 18 who is under your care
  • Designate an executor to gather and distribute assets, pay bills, and ensure your wishes are met
  • Designate trustees for funds you don't want given out all at once

Estate planning before getting remarried

Anyone in Missouri who is getting married after previously being widowed or divorced has good reason to feel happy about their new love and chance for a positive future with a new spouse. However, that joy should not get in the way of taking care of some very important practical and financial matters, especially when children from prior marriages are involved.

Fidelity Investments recommends that partners have frank and open conversations about their long-term plans for their estates and assets before they get married. This should involve a thorough review of all assets each person will bring to the relationship such as real estate, investments, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

What's in a will and do I need one?

It's a hard topic to talk about but planning for your death with the right documents is part of caring for your family members in the future. If you have a spouse, children or living parents, it's a good idea to have a well-written will in place. A will can offer you peace of mind by knowing you've put your affairs in order and communicated your preferences to those you love.

In addition to passing along money and possessions, a comprehensive will allows you to express your intentions, protect your assets and save your family members from potential stress after your death.

What are the basic estate planning tools?

Estate planning is a process that addresses the financial, legal and personal realities of passing away. You may have the desire to create an estate plan, but it can be difficult to know where to start. It may seem like a convoluted process at first glance, but it is actually quite simple when you know the basic terms.

While your estate plan should be unique according to your particular situation, most estate plans consist of some basic tools. Here are the core components of an estate plan.

The rules for making a will in Missouri

A will is one of the basic estate-planning tools. Whether alone or in conjunctions with trusts and other instruments, a will can provide an effective way to allocate your property.

Missouri law sets forth some essential technical requirements. Getting them wrong can cause the probate court to invalidate a will and proceed to distribute the estate as per Missouri's intestacy laws.

Dividing property in a Missouri divorce

Figuring out asset division can be a tough part of any divorce. Understanding how Missouri law generally approaches this issue can help you get a clearer picture of what you can expect.

Every divorce involves different personalities, priorities and types of assets. Thus, instead of a strict by-the-numbers approach, judges typically consider a variety of factors. Even if it is your goal to ultimately avoid litigation, knowing the basic framework can give you a basis for planning negotiations.

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Hamra Law Firm, LLC

Hamra Law Firm, LLC
16141 Swingley Ridge Rd.
Suite 105
Chesterfield, MO 63017-1778

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