Wills Estate Planning Trusts

Wills

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Legal Wills

Our experienced Attorneys provide comprehensive legal services for people in need of wills.  We understand it is difficult to think about your own death.  Even so it would be a shame not to prepare a will.  If you have young children or hold significant assets that you want distributed to specific people a will is generally the best solution.  If you die without a will, your estate will be divided according to your state's intestacy statute, which may or may not coincide with the plan you had in mind.  It is a common assumption that when a spouse dies the surviving spouse inherits everything, and that is not the case in any state.  In an intestate situation, the estate gets divided between the surviving spouse and children, and sometimes if there aren't any children, it gets divided between the surviving spouse and the decedent's parents. This can be very unpleasant and difficult for surviving spouses to find out that they don't get control of everything.

Wills | Do you Need One?

Anyone with significant assets or minor children should consider having a will. Whether you are married with a family or, single and without children, think about whether you have significant assets that you want particular people to inherit upon your death.  If you want to leave your extensive gold jewelry collection to your best friend instead of your parents, you'd need a will for that.  Widows without children may also want to have a will.  Having a will also allows you to name a guardian who would rear your minor children if you and the other parent died.  Not having a nominated guardian for your children in your will maen at some point a  a judge would have to make that decision without your input.  Having your children in a situation they can flourish in is generally important and you are the best judge fo who should be in charge of them if the worst happens.  Everyone recognizes the need for a will. Wills are also one of the most misunderstood documents in terms of both what the can do (appoint a guardian) and what they cannot do (avoid probate).

Our lawyers can discuss how a will can benefit you at a free Will Consultation or call 816-434-6611 to speak to an attorney now.

What Do Wills Cover?

In any will, you can only bequeath what you own, individually, that hasn't been transferred by some other means. Such assets can include your tangible personal property. What this generally means is things like your house contents, cars, jewelry, collectibles -- things you can pick up and carry. A will cannot direct assets for which you named a beneficiary by contract. These assets will pass to the designated person upon your death.

Your will doesn't cover anything you own with someone else or that is in a trust. If you own a house with your spouse in joint tenancy, as a lot of people do, then it will not be covered through a will. The house generally passes to the surviving spouse upon one owner's death. The will won't cover who inherits the house until the second owner dies. In short, many assets pass outside a will, depending on what other transfer methods are set up. When bequeathing specific personal property it is usually best to make it clear who should inherit which asset to avoid unwanted misunderstandings and fights. Also, think carefully about naming the executor who will take care of your affairs after your death. The executor is the person in charge of collecting the assets, valuing them, paying debts, paying taxes and then distributing the property in accordance with the terms of the will.

Updating Your Will

Unfortunately Wills don't self-update. You should review your will, ideally with an experienced attorney, at least every few years or if you go through a divorce, marriage, childbirth or some other major life change, to see if you need to update it. Your attorney can update a will either by adding a codicil -- an amendment that you attach to the will -- or create a new will to replace the outdated one.

Our lawyers can discuss updating your will at a free Will Consultation or call 816-434-6611 to speak to an attorney now.

 

Probate

Probate can be a frustrating process for the heirs of an estate. Our experienced probate attorneys can help guide you through the probate courts so that your heirs wishes are met.  Probate is the court supervised legal process that includes determining the validity of your will, gathering your assets, paying your debts, taxes, and the expenses of will administration, and then distributing the remaining assets to those persons entitled to them.

To make sure that your property is distributed according to your wishes, your will should be submitted to probate court. The main advantage of having an attorney handle probate is that the probate court is supervising the entire proceedings, and the probate laws are being followed. This is especially beneficial if there are claims of creditors, challenges to the will, or disputes that arise from the will.

Probate With A Will

If you have a will at the time of your death probate generally progresses in an  orderly fashion. The Attorney you name as the executor of your will becomes the central figure in the probate proceedings. Your executor will carry out the many duties specified by law, and the Will you leave will provide the guidelines for the probate process.  The legal term for probate proceedings with a will is testate proceedings.

 

Our lawyers can discuss probate with you at a free Probate Consultation or call 816-434-6611 to speak to an attorney now.