Estate Planning in Missouri
Branson and Springfield Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Families, Individuals, and Businesses in Missouri
The estate planning attorneys at LifeGen Law Group will work with you to create and implement an estate plan to protect and provide for you and your family. Smart estate planning must be flexible to account for life’s changes, whether the changes are personal, such as the ability to change or add beneficiaries, or prompted by external circumstances, such as changes in the law. With our office in Springfield, our estate planning law firm works to keep clients in control of their assets and financial affairs through building long-term relationships with clients and helping them navigate changes in their families, their finances, and changes in the law over the course of time. This long-term planning approach helps ensure a plan set up today will work the way it should both the day after creation and ten years following.
Why Utilize an Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning is a process of determining WHO will receive your property and assets after your death and WHEN and HOW the transfer will occur. No matter how little or much a person owns every person has an estate; therefore, everyone needs to make a plan for how it will be distributed. This “distribution” takes into account all kinds of factors, including, but not necessarily limited to the age of the beneficiary, the beneficiary’s ability to manage money, the beneficiary’s marital status (and strength of the marriage), the beneficiary’s disability status, the likelihood a beneficiary may have a creditor, etc.
Estate planning is also a matter of providing for yourself and your loved ones should you become disabled. Who is going to determine when you are “disabled”? Who will make financial decisions for you if you cannot handle your property and financial affairs? Who will make your health care decisions? Who has access to your protected medical records and information? Have you considered what will happen to you, your family, and your assets if you have to go to a nursing home?
Ultimately, sound estate planning is about planning for your family’s future. Sixty-percent of Americans are not engaging in any type of estate planning, and we recognize the need to educate people about their estate planning options. As estate planning attorneys, our job is to teach you about the law; your job is to teach us about your family and your assets. Together, we will create and implement an estate plan that protects and provides for you and your family.
Lastly, estate planning should be conducted with an eye toward minimizing or eliminating the costs of tax and probate. In the end, our process for sound estate planning and elder law is concerned with minimizing these expenses while endeavoring to settle the estate as quickly as possible and maintain your family’s privacy. Contact a Springfield estate planning attorney or a Branson estate planning attorney at our Missouri office.
Tools Your Estate Planning Attorney Will Use
Designing the right estate plan for a particular client is like constructing the perfect home: both the attorney and the client must know exactly which tools to use to reach the desired result. Once we have carefully heard and understood what our clients wish to accomplish, our Branson and Springfield attorneys will carefully craft the right plan to help them achieve those personal goals. Building an estate plan involves the consideration of many types of estate planning “tools.” Not every tool is right for every situation, but here are a few estate planning tools we may use to create your plan:
A trust is like an empty bucket, a receptacle for assets. Each trust has a “trustmaker,” a “beneficiary,” and a “trustee.” Usually, clients serve in all three roles while they are alive and well. At creation of the trust, clients can appoint someone else who could serve as trustee in case they ever become disabled. Thus, upon disability, clients have already appointed someone else to manage their property and financial affairs. Clients also get to name beneficiaries who inherit upon the clients’ passing, and those assets inside the trust will avoid probate and go directly to those beneficiaries. Keep in mind there are literally dozens of different types of trusts. Each type is designed to accomplish a certain purpose. Your estate planning attorney will take the time to understand your situation and will then advise you regarding whether you need a trust and, if so, what type of trust you need.
Last Will and Testament.
Most people think that having a “will” is what defines having an estate plan. The truth is you really never want your will to be used because using the will means an asset of yours had to go through probate. A lot of people think a “will” helps your assets avoid probate; but instead, all a will does is inform the probate court how you want to leave your property. One important use of a will, whether or not your assets go through probate, is nominating a guardian for your minor (those under the age of 18) children.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is like giving someone else a spare set of keys to your car, allowing them to drive the car for you if you are temporarily or permanently unable to drive. Powers of attorney appoint others to handle a variety of decisions (from financial to health care) if you are disabled or, in some cases, if you decide you would like assistance, even though you are still able to manage finances yourself.
A living will is a document expressing your desires for what you want to happen if you are unable to communicate and not expected to ever improve or recover from your illness. The living will empower your Healthcare agents to make end-of-life decisions. Once you have these documents in place, discussing these matters with your family is important. They need to know how to use the authority you gave them if/when they need to make such decisions.
A beneficiary deed is one of many estate planning tools that allows an asset to avoid probate and go directly to the designated beneficiary(ies) upon the creator’s death. If avoiding probate is the only concern and we want to make sure a piece of real estate passes to your beneficiary quickly after your death, the beneficiary deed accomplishes this purpose. Other tools in this category of probate avoidance provide a way for your cash, investments, life insurance, retirement plans, and personal property to pass to whomever you want without the interference of probate.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost in Missouri?
If you are considering hiring an estate planning attorney, one question you will ask is “How much does it cost?” Here is a lawyerly answer: “It depends!” Without knowing you and your specific situation, we do not know what tools we need to use to accomplish your goals. Here is some important information on the issue of attorney’s fees at our law firm.
Hourly vs. Flat Rate
That you pay for a lawyer’s time is a misnomer. You are paying for your estate planning lawyer’s expertise, experience, and value they will confer upon you and your family through the services he or she provides. Typically, we are able to flat rate our fees for services provided to you and your family. Flat-rate fees means you know exactly what the cost will be before you decide to move forward with the plan, and you are free to call, email, or come by the office during the process without the worry of getting a surprise bill.
What Is Covered?
During your no-cost initial consultation, we will review exactly what services and documents are covered in the quoted fee and will gladly answer any questions or concerns you may have about the process. Regardless of whether you hire us, or use another attorney, knowing the cost of getting your plan in place is important, BUT understanding the firm’s policy regarding the initial funding of your trust (if you need one), the process of making future changes, and the costs involved in hiring that attorney to assist the family in settling your estate when you are deceased are also important considerations when choosing an attorney.
The Commitment Made by Our Branson and Springfield Estate Planning Attorneys
At LifeGen Law Group, we offer a no-cost initial consultation (usually one meeting, but sometimes it takes two) where we take time to learn about your situation and design the specifics of your estate plan. We understand every situation and individual is different, and our attorneys are committed to creating a plan tailored to each client’s specific needs!
When we know what we can do for you, we are then able to communicate our flat-rate fee to complete your plan. Then you may choose whether or not you want to move forward with the plan. There is absolutely no pressure or obligation. We understand you need the opportunity to meet with us in a pressure-free environment so you can determine if we are the right fit for you and your family. After all, your estate planning attorney is someone you will know and work with for a very long time. Contact us today, toll-free at 417-823-9898 with any questions you may have or to set up your free consultation with an experienced Springfield or Branson estate planning attorney.