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If you have a family or assets including land or a retirement fund, you may benefit from estate planning. An estate plan could save your children time, inconvenience, and tax burdens after your death. Even if you do not have children, an estate plan ensures that your hard-earned assets go to the people or institutions you care for.

With the help of a Park Hills estate planning lawyer, you can make decisions for the future of your loved ones and ensure the security of your assets. A comprehensive estate plan also could help you manage assets more efficiently while you are alive and avoid tax liability. Our dedicated attorneys are here to provide you the guidance you need.

What is an Estate?

An estate refers to all assets an individual owns when they die. A person’s estate could include real estate, bank accounts, and personal property like vehicles, furniture, art, jewelry, and clothing. However, the debts a person owes are also part of their estate.

Some specific properties do not belong to an estate. For example, if a deceased person owns a home with their spouse, their partner would immediately own the property upon their death. Likewise, funds in shared bank accounts also go to the joint holder after a death and do not become part of the estate.

Retirement funds and brokerage accounts often have a beneficiary listed who receives the money upon the account holder’s death. If the account goes to the beneficiary as planned, it does not become part of the deceased person’s estate. However, if the beneficiary has died, cannot be located, or refuses to accept the funds, the money goes into the decedent’s estate. A skilled attorney in Park Hills could help a person establish their estate plan and determine which properties are eligible.

What Purpose Does a Trust Serve?

Many people believe trusts are funds that wealthy people establish to benefit their children. However, trusts can be useful for anyone. Even those who live modestly might benefit their heirs by exploring estate planning with trusts.

A person—or settlor—might put their assets in a revocable living trust. This settlor maintains control of the assets while they live, but a designated trustee distributes their possessions to heirs once they pass. According to Missouri Revised Statutes §456.6-602, a settlor can revoke a trust while they are living, but if the trust still exists when they die, their property will avoid the probate process and go straight to beneficiaries.

Trusts can ensure that certain property or funds are used to benefit specific people. For example, some trusts have tax advantages for both beneficiaries and the person that establishes the arrangement. Trusts can also ensure that spouses do not acquire property that an individual wants to pass to their children, grandchildren, or charity. A skilled estate arrangement lawyer in Park Hill could review an individual’s expectations for their property and draft a trust that meets their needs.

Keeping a Will Up to Date

If a person dies without having created a will, the law decides who gets their property. If a legal spouse survives a deceased person and they do not have children, their partner will receive everything. However, the children of an unmarried individual must divide everything equally after the parent’s death. Likewise, if a person has a spouse and children, the spouse gets a percentage of their possessions, and the children divide the remainder between themselves.

A parent should have a will even if they have few assets. A will may nominate a guardian the parent wishes to care for their children if they should die when the child is a minor. If a parent does not specify a guardian, a child could end up with another family member or in foster care.

Over time, circumstances might require changes to a will. A person could consult a Park Hills estate attorney whenever they experience marriage, divorce, the death of a beneficiary, the birth of a child or grandchild, or a loss or gain of significant assets. Such life events might prompt changes in a will and careful planning.

Rely on a Park Hills Estate Planning Attorney for Your Family Needs

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Everyone deserves to know exactly what will happen to their assets after passing away.

A Park Hills estate planning lawyer could help ensure your wishes are carried out and your property goes to the people and institutions you choose. Call today to begin the process.

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