EXPERIENCED ESTATE PLANNING, TRUST ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE ATTORNEYS
Why Estate Planning?
To Save Your Savings for Your Loved Ones
We design and create estate plan documents to assure that:
- Your assets are protected and managed for you now and in the event of your incapacity and at your death.
- Your assets are transferred on death as you wish with features that protect beneficiaries against unnecessary taxes, careless spending or investments, marital problems, and creditor claims.
- Eliminate probate costs.
How We Manage Estate Planning – In A Convenient Place, In Understandable Language, At an Affordable Fee
We begin with a meeting with you in a place that is convenient for you which may be our office, your home or some other location of mutual choice. We explore and discuss your desires and needs in language you understand. You are invited to bring as much or as little information concerning your assets and obligations and future plans and desires as you wish. We will walk through the process of developing the plan that you desire and best fits your needs. At the end of that meeting we will ask you if you want us to prepare your estate plan. There is no charge for the initial meeting if you do not engage us as your attorneys. Everything you tell us in that meeting about your family and your plans remains confidential. We will give you an estimated fee range in that meeting to help you decide whether you want to hire us as your attorneys. We will answer any and all questions you raise in regard to our services and fees. We want you to be fully informed before you make any decision about our service as your attorneys. We first invest our time with you which endear us to our clients.
What is Probate and Trust Administration?
Probate Court administration arises at death if the decedent leaves any of his or her assets to be disbursed under his or will or left no will and no trust and the assets are distributed under Court supervision. This may arise when you have been named as a Personal Representative or Executor under a will. Trust administration arises when you have been named as Trustee under the Trust of another person. In both circumstances you will be responsible for various actions in the completion of your duties. We have in depth experience in both of these matters and can assist you in performing your duties even by performing some of them for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment for free where we will answer your questions, explain the process including how you will not be responsible for our attorney fees.
Our goal is simplification and proper estate planning. We seek the simplest solutions that meet your needs while protecting against all possible foreseeable events and circumstances that can jeopardize your future decision making and your assets. We put the plans in place to cover those contingencies.
We work with you, your financial advisor and accountant on investment and tax issues. We know they are important to you. We respect them, their relationship with you and the services they provide you.
We advise, assist and stress the importance of the way your assets are titled and beneficiaries are designated to assure the proper functioning of your estate plan. Many estate plans fail because of mistakes in asset titling and beneficiary designation. We work to avoid that failure.
Things to Think About
As We Mature
By living we are likely at some future time to suffer reduced capacity. We cannot predict with any certainty when or how this might begin or how rapidly it might progress. But we know as time passes, the likelihood increases. This diminished capacity may come upon us sometimes suddenly. If we fail to plan ahead our loved ones cannot help us without legal intervention, potentially a costly emotional and economical mistake. This can be avoided easily but only if we take action when we have full capacity and thus the ability to make good judgments for ourselves and our loved ones.
So, what plans should be completed while we have full capacity?
At a minimum, three legal instruments will usually be needed:
- A General Durable Power of Attorney which authorizes the person or persons you select to make financial and legal decisions that you could have made if you cannot make your own decisions. “Durable” means the authority does not end if you become incapacitated.
- An Advanced Medical Directive which authorizes one or more persons to make health-care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. You declare in the Directive the types of medical care and treatment you desire, usually a very personal decision for most rather than leaving those decisions to others.
- A Revocable Living Trust, which contains directions to the trustee to manage and use trust assets for you during your life and thereafter for your chosen beneficiaries.
How Should Our Children Inherit: Outright or In Trust?
Most families leave their savings to their children or other family members, after taking care of themselves. The question is, should a child inherit outright, free of control by others, or should some or all of the inheritance be held by a trust for the child’s benefit?
A trust protects against inexperience until a child attains some maturity, but how much maturity varies from person to person. As we grow older, our judgment as to an appropriate age for outright inheritance tends to grow older too. Moves from twenty-five to thirty to thirty-five are common.
We encourage our clients to consider keeping the child’s share in the Trust for the lifetime of the child, primarily to protect the child’s inheritance from his or bad financial decisions, a failed marriage and other types of creditors. We can show you the benefits of this type of trust while giving the child control over his or her trust when he or she attains the age you believe he or she would be capable of responsibly handling financial affairs. This type of trust protects the child during his or her lifetime and at the same time gives them the power to appoint whatever remains in the trust at his or her death to their loved ones.
We also encourage our clients to include a “Special Needs Trust” provision in their trusts. Special Needs Trusts are a way to protect against a beneficiary of the Trust losing his or her benefits received under federal and state benefit programs in the event of a disability. This is forward planning and must be created before any such disability occurs to be the most protective. We promote proactive rather than reactive estate planning.
Savings inherited outright are easily lost to one of four common risks: Uncontrolled Spending, Unwise Investment, Creditor Claims, and Divorce. Some of these contingencies are under the control of your ultimate beneficiaries and some are not. Our position and advice is why take the risk when a trust can provide clear and positive protection against them.
We prefer to talk about your “savings” rather than your wealth. The only “wealth” a family builds is that which it “saves”—from unwise spending or investment. We think it is important that your savings are “saved” for your loved ones and we work with you to achieve that goal.
Why Act Now?
A great gift to your loved ones is to take the time now to organize your legal and financial affairs to minimize confusion, unnecessary expense, and unnecessary taxes before we (inevitably) become incapacitated or die.
You begin by collecting your financial information, thinking about who want to manage your legal and financial affairs if you become incapacitated, who you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot communicate with your doctors, how and to whom you want your assets to be given when you die.
The biggest mistake is to do nothing about these matters which nearly always ends in additional costs to handle your affairs, little or no protection of your savings once they pass into the hands of your loved ones, emotional and practical difficulties associated with dealing with financial institutions, courts and creditors. We are here to help you leave your family a well-organized plan to deal effectively with at your incapacity or death.
The answer of course is to meet with a lawyer sooner rather than later.
Call UGBB and take the first step to create your Estate Plan.
Experienced estate planning and probate law legal services are provided at the Missouri law firm of Uthoff, Graeber, Bobinette & Blanke. We accept credit cards and are available for evening and weekend appointments. We have convenient offices located in both downtown St. Louis and Clayton. To contact us, call 314-732-0746 or 888-445-2353.