Question: What is a will?
Answer: A will is a written legal document with instructions for distribution of an individual’s property after his or her death. A will must be properly executed under Missouri law to be legally valid and enforceable.
Question: What is your estate?
Answer: Your estate is all the assets owned by you before they are distributed through a trust or a will.
Question: What is estate planning?
Answer: If something happens to you, an estate plan allows you distribute your property as you would have wished. An estate plan will help to minimize taxes, reduce burdens on intended beneficiaries, and avoid costly time-consuming probate battles.
Question: What happens when you die without a will?
Answer: Without a will, family members are left to face numerous and potentially expensive legal proceedings. Without a will your estate will enter probate where all your debts and assets will have to be determined to pay off creditors. Any remaining assets are allocated to the beneficiaries. Disputes regarding who gets what and how much must then be settled through the courts, creating additional expenses for your family.
Question: Do you need an estate plan?
Answer: Do you have a minor child or a dependent with special needs? Do you own a business? Do you care about who receives your property? Do you want to ensure that your wishes about life-prolonging medical care or funeral arrangements are honored?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need an estate plan.
Question: Do you need an attorney to help with your estate plan?
Answer: Tackling your estate planning alone can be a tricky endeavor. You may have seen software or fill-in-the-blank forms which promise to save you time and money. Be careful using these forms. Laws vary from state to state and if your will is not properly executed a judge may invalidate the entire will.
At the Law Offices of Stephen J. Hoffmann we can help you skillfully navigate through the estate planning process. We will define your objectives and create a specialized plan to meet them. Contact Us today for a free consultation.