101 South Hanley, Suite 1280 Clayton, MO 63105
314.283.8930; henry@elsterlaw.com

Wills Do Not Avoid Probate

One of the more common misconceptions people have regarding the probate process is that if you have a will probate is unnecessary; somehow, per this common belief, the surviving heirs will locate the will and be obligated to follow the directives articulated therein without court intervention. Nothing could be further than the truth. Missouri Revised […]

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Transfers & Gifts to Minors

Many different laws and legal devices are in place to help facilitate transfers of property to a minor (i.e., those under 18 years of age). When a transferor — who usually is a family member — wants to transfer and give property to a minor, there are a number of different things that can be […]

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Refusal of Letters — When Probate is Not Required

A Probate Court is not obligated to grant a petition for Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration (see my post on Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration for the distinction). Pursuant to 473.090 RSMo the Probate Court may refuse the grant of letters on a number of grounds. The insufficient estate value basis is one […]

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Missouri Trust Contests

As with Wills, a Trust can be challenged for its validity. A trust “contest” is, strictly speaking, a legal cause of action which challenges a trust’s validity, in whole or in part (usually in part due to how common severability clauses are). Mere dissatisfaction with the manner in which a trust is written and distributes […]

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Wills, Trusts: Omitted Spouse, Child(ren)

Missouri probate law is old-fashioned in many ways. A great example of this is the omitted child(ren) and omitted spouse rule codified in RSMo, 474.235-240. The ideological underpinning of the laws are that families are inherently close and tight-knit. It would be inconceivable, then, that a family member — particularly a parent — would disinherit […]

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Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (“ILIT”)

Previously, I posed about Life Insurance Trusts (“ILITs”) and how they are often used in conjunction with Revocable Living Trusts. In that same post, I briefly mentioned ILITs without delving into detail. Let’s do that now. Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 2038, property of a revocable trust will be included in the Settlor’s estate, […]

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Marital Deduction Trust and Will

A decedent’s estate receives a tax deduction for amounts passing to a surviving spouse. Such deductions are used to defer estate taxes and transfer taxes that would otherwise be due on the death of the first spouse to die until the time of death of the surviving spouse. To qualify for the tax deduction, strict […]

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Trust Modifications & Amendments

Trusts can be divided into two categories: revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. As the name suggests, irrevocable trusts generally cannot be amended or modified by the settlor (the creator of the trust). Revocable Living Trusts are usually freely modifiable and amendable. However, a revocable living trust, upon the death of the settlor(s), will become irrevocable […]

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Debts at Probate

In a probate proceeding in Missouri, one of the chief responsibilities of a personal representative is to handle the debts of the decedent. Generally, in order of priority, the expenses of the decedent’s last illness and funeral, any other debts to creditors, and tax elections (estate taxes, generation-skipping tax, and all other transfer taxes — […]

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Pour-over Will

What’s a “pour-over” Will? It’s a question I’m asked every so often when explaining an estate plan. The short answer answer is that when a Will has a “pour-over” provision it is designed to act as a safety net for a trust. I’ll elaborate. Pour-over wills are a necessary instrument in a trust-centered estate plan. […]

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