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Estate Planning

Plan for Peace of Mind 

Estate Planning is about preparing a life plan and taking care of family in the event of death or disability. Death and disability is a difficult conversation, but one that you need to have and something that requires an estate plan. A will and trust protects you and your family. It is better for you to prepare the estate plan. If you do not, state laws kicks in as the default plan for your family. Stay in charge of your estate plan and give your family peace of mind.

Military Veterans

Military veterans receive a 10% discount for will and living trust estate plans. 

An Estate Plan for Incapacity

Traumatic brain injuries from accidents, brain strokes, dementia and Alzheimers...mental incapacity may strike a person at any age. Whether single or married, If you become mentally incapacitated, you will not be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that one’s spouse or adult children can automatically take over bank accounts, paying bills, and other finances. In order for others to be able to manage your finances, he or she must petition a court for conservatorship. The process may be lengthy, costly, and stressful. The conservator may have to do a yearly accounting with the court.  The person may not be your preferred choice.  It is important to plan ahead for the just-in-case scenario and the inevitable aging process.  

It is important to work with an attorney to create the proper legal documents to designate a person, or persons, that you trust so they will have the authority to withdraw money from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell stocks, and refinance your home, if needed. A will takes place on death and is not what protects you in life. You need a proper financial power of attorney.

In addition to planning for the financial aspect of your affairs during incapacity, it’s critical that you establish a plan for your medical care. The law allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a durable power of attorney for health care where you designate the person to make such decisions on your behalf. In addition to a power of attorney for health care, you should also have an advance health directive (living will)  which informs others of your preferred medical treatments such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and your wishes for the natural death process.

Avoiding Probate

Single or married, a will is a start at planning. It is better to have one than to not have anything in place
With a will, your estate  will pass through probate. Still, the process is expensive, time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. During this process, it is not unusual for the probate courts to freeze assets for weeks or even months while trying to determine the proper disposition of the estate, making it difficult for your family to pay for living expenses. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private. 

Providing for Minor Children

It is important that your estate plan address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow your surviving spouse to devote more attention to your children, without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide for special counseling and resources for your spouse, if you believe he or she lacks the experience or ability to handle financial and legal matters. You should also discuss with your attorney the possibility of both you and your spouse dying simultaneously, or within a short duration of time. A contingency plan should include a list of persons you’d like to manage your assets and name a guardian you’d like to raise your children in your absence. The person, or trustee, in charge of the finances need not be the same person as the guardian. In fact, in many situations, you may want to purposely designate different persons to maintain a system of checks and balances.

You should give careful thought to your choice of guardian, ensuring that he or she shares the values you want instilled in your children. You will also want to give consideration to the age and financial condition of a potential guardian. Some guardians may lack child-rearing skills you feel are necessary. If you fail to plan, the decision as to who will manage your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law.

Another issue to consider during the planning process is whether you’d like your beneficiaries to receive your assets directly, or to have the assets placed in trust and distributed subject to conditions and circumstances such as age, need and even incentives based on behavior and education. All too often, children receive substantial assets before they are mature enough to handle them in a prudent manner.

Planning for Death Taxes

The IRS will want to review your estate at death to ensure you don’t owe them that one final tax: the federal estate tax. Whether there will be any tax owed depends on the size of your estate and how your estate plan is structured. Many states have their own separate estate and inheritance taxes that you need to be aware of. There are many effective strategies that can be implemented to reduce or eliminate death taxes, but you must start the planning process early in order to properly implement many of these strategies.

Charitable Bequests – Planned Giving

Do you want to benefit a charitable organization or cause?  Your estate plan can provide support for such organizations in a variety of ways, either during your lifetime or at your death. Depending on how  planned giving is set up, it may also allow you to receive a stream of income for life, earn higher investment yield, or reduce your capital gains or estate taxes.

Ultimately, a well thought out estate plan should provide for your loved ones in an effective and efficient manner by avoiding guardianship during your lifetime, probate at death, estate taxes and unnecessary delays. At Tucker Legal Services, LLC, the estate planning attorney will review your goals, finances and provide various estate planning options available to you.  Once your estate plan is in place, you will have peace of mind for yourself and your family.



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400 Chesterfield Center, Suite 400, Chesterfield, MO 63017
| Phone: 314-332-0011

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