At Altieri Gilmore LLP we deeply respect the unique circumstances, concerns and needs of every estate planning client. Some of our clients have a clear vision of their estate plan goals and some are just getting their plans in place for the future. In either circumstance we apply our experience and knowledge about estate related laws to craft solid estate plans that cover the personal needs of you, your family and loved ones. Our estate planning attorneys take a tremendous amount of pride in making sure that each and every estate plan we put together reflects on the client’s values and goals, with a strong focus on ensuring the harmony of your family and loved ones, minimizing tax burdens, and helping to secure a strong legacy for generations down the road.
Why is it a good idea to have an Estate Plan?
No one usually wants to think about or even consider death or disability, getting an estate plan in place is a very important step to take in order to protect your family and your loved ones if a tragedy occurs. Getting a solid estate plan in place not only protects your assets and finances, an estate plan can also save your loved ones from the drawn out process and frustration that comes with managing your assets, finances anything else related to you when you pass away or become seriously disabled.
Are your loved ones and your estate prepared if you become incapacitated?
You will not be capable of managing your own finances if you become incapacitated in some way. Many people mistakenly think that their husband, wife or adult children can simply take over everything for them if for some reason they become incapacitated. The fact is that for others to legally be allowed to manage your personal finances, they must first petition to have you declared legally incompetent by a Missouri court. This legal process to declare you legally incompetent can be long, expensive, emotional and stressful. With out your estate plan in place even if the Missouri court decides to appoint the individual you would have chosen to handle your affairs, they will more than likely have to return to court each year and present how they have spent and invested every penny of your money. If you want your save your family the headache, heartache and be able to immediately take over your personal finances for you, you must get a plan together and specify a person or a group of people that you "trust" in the correct legal documentation so that this person or individuals will have the proper authority and be able to withdraw finances from your bank accounts, pay your bills, handle your retirement accounts, and refinance your house. Your "will" does not go into effect until you pass away and a power of attorney could possibly be inefficient.
Are you and your loved ones prepared to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated?
Also in addition to preparing for the financial portion of your personal affairs while you are incapacitated, you need to also get in place a solid plan for your health care needs. You should appoint someone that you trust like a spouse, any family member or a friend to make these health care decisions on your behalf in regards to your medical care if you are not able to make these decisions on your own. You are able to do this by a durable power of attorney for your health care needs when you specify an individual to make these decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. As well as a power of attorney for medical care needs, you also should have a living will in place which lets others become aware of your preferences in regards to your health care such as decisions about the use of extraordinary medical decisions if you were to become permanently unconscious (brain dead), unconscious for a long term, (in a coma) or terminally ill.
Have you made preparations for your estate in order to avoid probate court?
If you pass away and leave your entire estate to your family or friends and use only a will, your entire estate will have to pass through probate court. The probate process is very expensive, takes a lot of time and is also open to the public. If this happens the probate court will be in control of your estate until the legal details of your estate have been established and appointed. If you have children and are married, you will want to make sure that your spouse and or children have are able to access money to pay for their living costs while the estate is being going through the process in court. The probate court system at times will put a hold on finances and assets long periods of time, even months while the court attempts to work through the correct plan of the estate distribution. If you were married your surviving spouse could possibly be forced to request cash from the probate court in order to pay the living family members current cost of living expenses. The entire process from start to finish can be very stressful especially after the loss of their loved one. With proper legal help and planning, your entire estate, finances and assets will go straight to your family or loved ones without having to go through probate court and this can be accomplished in a way that doesn't cause your loved ones added grief and it is done privately. Call us now to set up your estate plan. 816-524-0404 Altieri Gilmore LLP
Have you prepared a plan for your minor children?
With in your estate plan it is very important that it addresses certain aspects for your children especially regarding their upbringing. If you have children that are below the age of 18, you will want to implement a set plan that will allow your spouse to devote more of his or her time to the children and not have to worry about work commitments. In your estate plan you may also want to have a plan in place for counseling for your husband or wife if you think they may not have the ability or proper experience to operate the financial and legal matters for your family and your estate. You may also want to talk with your lawyer about the plans if you and your spouse end up passing away at the same time, or within a short time frame. A plan for this unfortunate situation should outline the for person or persons that you would want to handle your finances and assets as well as the guardian for your children that you would nominate for their upbringing. if this is not within the estate plan the decisions regarding who will handle your assets, finances and who will raise your children will be left in the hands of the court to decide. If the probate court ends up appointing the person or persons you would have chosen there could still be added burdens and certain restrictions put in place by the probate court, for instance, having to show where and how all of the money they have spent from your account at the end of every year.
Altieri Gilmore LLP | 816-524-0404 - Estate Planning Attorneys
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