There’s no time like the present. Although this adage rings true in many different circumstances, it rings especially true for estate planning and probate. Under Missouri law, if you pass away without a will, trust, a payable on death arrangement, or any other testamentary instrument, then your estate will be subject to probate and the State of Missouri will distribute your property according to the default scheme called Intestacy. (See: Probate: Intestacy). In probate, a personal representative, via Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, will administer a decedent’s estate and be charged with the responsibility of winding up an estate’s affairs (addressing creditors, distributing inheritance, etc.).
Depending on the size of an estate, probate can take thirty (30) days to in excess of a year. More pertinently, probate costs money: a personal representative and his/her attorney will be entitled to a percentage of the estate’s cash value. As such, what would be normal inheritance will be subject to legal fees and court expenses. To combat these fees, you can do one of two things: create payable-on-death/beneficiary (E.G., Beneficiary Deeds) arrangements or a trust (Wills do not avoid probate). Although the costs of trust-centered estate plans can be costly, they are ultimately cheaper and more efficient.
Therefore, if you have any estate planning questions or probate questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Be it revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, beneficiary deeds, testamentary trusts, wills, powers of attorneys, etc., contact us today for a free consultation.