Making end of life decisions can be a scary and confusing undertaking. At Cline, Braddock & Basinger, LLC attorneys Chris Braddock & Jeffrey Basinger take the personal one on one time with you or your loved ones to explain all of the possible estate planning options that are available, and to make the process as easy and painless as possible. We believe in taking the time to really get to know each client and understand his or her final wishes concerning gifts or property, medical care, and funeral arrangements.
Although there are many estate planning options, some topics that we are frequently asked about are as follows:
How can I avoid probate?
There are many estate planning tools available to avoid the need for probate after death. Chris Braddock & Jeff Basinger are happy to review your current assets with you and devise a plan of non-probate transfers such as beneficiary deeds, transfer on death assignments, beneficiary designations, and in some circumstances trusts. For the majority of estates it is possible to provide for the division of all assets while avoiding the need for probate.
Do I need a will?
Although it is usually possible to provide for non-probate transfers of all of an estate’s assets, a Will is still usually a good back-up plan to have in place. Often estate planning decisions are made decades before death, and sometimes persons buy or receive additional property later on in life which they forget to tell their attorney about or set up proper non-probate transfers. In such circumstances, a Will can fill in to make sure that such property goes to the persons you desire.
A Will also provides the means to choose a personal representative (sometimes called executor), waive any requirements for a bond being posted by the personal representative, and to ask the court to allow independent administration of an estate.
Who can make medical decisions?
Missouri law allows an individual to establish a living will. Such documents instructs doctors that in circumstances where the patient is incapacitated and suffering from a terminal condition not to provide further life sustaining measures, except for pain and suffering. Missouri law also allows an individual to designate a durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions. This document chooses who will make medical decisions for the individual in circumstances where the patient is incapacitated, but a living will has not been created or is not applicable.
Do I need a trust?
Not all persons need a trust as part of an estate plan. Often when an individual does not have children or the children are grown all estate planning needs can be met by non-probate transfers. However, there are circumstances when a trust can be beneficial. Often a trust is the best vehicle to preserve assets for minor children in the event of the death of their natural parents. A trust also can be used to structure gifts over a period of time, such as payments to grandchildren upon reaching a certain age. Trusts also have a role in estate taxes, such as a marital deduction trust.
What should I personally do?
Each estate plan is different. At Cline, Braddock & Basinger there is no charge for an initial consultation, and we are standing by to craft an individual estate plan to meet your specific needs.
We are often asked about methods to distribute property to client’s heirs without the need for probate. Once important way to keep real estate from being subjected to probate is the use of a beneficiary deed. Such deed allows the present owner of the real estate to maintain control of the real estate during his or her lifetime. Following his or her death the real estate can then pass directly to his or her heirs without the need of court involvement of probate.Read More »