1. Will and/or a Trust
2. Durable Power of Attorney for financial affairs
3. Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for medical care and treatment
4. HIPPA releases
5. Proper titling on all assets and coordination of Payable on Death (POD), Transfer on Death (TOD), and beneficiary designations with your existing will or trust
Many individuals take the first step in estate planning and execute a "simple" will to dispose of their property at death. A will is a document that is filed with the probate division of the circuit court after death which designates who will administer the estate as the "Personal Representative" or executor. A will instructs the court to distribute the decedent's assets to specific individuals or entities. If the decedent had minor children at the time of his or her death, the will appoints the guardian of those children and unless certain provisions are made in the will, a conservatorship will be opened to govern the assets left to such children until they reach eighteen (18) years of age.
However, what most individuals don't understand is that assets with non-probate transfer designations, such as beneficiary designations, payable on death designations ("POD"), transfer on death designations ("TOD"), or joint ownership with another individual will likely avoid probate and therefore, avoid the plan of distribution outlined in the will or the trust. For this reason all non-probate transfer designations must be carefully coordinated with the plan of distribution contained in the will or trust. In addition these types of planning techniques often do not work as intended if individuals "die in the wrong order" or an individual has capacity or creditor issues at the time of your death. This is just one example of the many considerations involved in the process of estate planning – simply drafting the documents is not enough – it is critical to have a comprehensive estate plan in place!
16401 Swingley Ridge Road, Suite 110
Chesterfield, Missouri 63017
T. (636) 489-4404
F. (636) 489-1747
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.