Estate Plan FAQs
Let us share our knowledge with you. Browse the answers to frequently asked topics below, or schedule a free consultation.
What is an estate plan?
At Moore Legacy Law, estate planning begins with a strategy and ends with a set of documents that ensure your assets go where and how you want them to when you pass away and/or if you become incapacitated.
Our estate plans determine:
- Who and what resources will take care of you if you become incapacitated/unable to care for yourself
- Who you want to take care of you minor children in your absence and who will control their finances
- How you would like your funeral or celebration of life to play out and what you’d like done with your remains
- How your various assets will be divided and to whom
What documents are in an estate plan?
Estate plan documents may include:
- Will and/or Trust
- Power of Attorney for Property
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Advanced Healthcare Directive
- HIPP Waiver
- Directions to set up Non-probate Transfer Designations
Moore Legacy Law invests in our clients significantly on the frontend to understand their concerns, goals, and assets. Some firms skip this strategic step altogether. They have a single template they use and they will fit you into it regardless of how well it actually works.
Moore Legacy Law creates custom plans to achieve each of our client’s specific objectives. We marry the following to recommend the best plan for each individual:
1. Maximize effectiveness: How completely does the plan meet the client’s needs/goals?
2. Control cost: How expensive is the plan to create, maintain, and administer?
3. Control complexity: How easily can a layperson understand and implement the plan?
Who needs an estate plan and why?
Everyone needs an estate plan to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes upon death and to remove some of this burden from their loved ones.
Additionally, everyone needs to identify the people and the resources that will be used to take care of them if they can no longer take care of themselves (are incapacitated). Otherwise, this burden will also fall onto loved ones.
Finally, it is critical that parents have an estate plan in place to protect and support their children in the parents’ absences or incapacity.
Non-probate Transfer Designations
What are Non-probate Transfer Designations?
Non-probate transfer designations, sometimes referred to as TOD or POD designations (Transfer on death or Pay on death designations), are designations made on your property and accounts that avoid probate. Many assets can be transferred via non-probate transfer designations including bank accounts, vehicles, investment accounts, life insurance, etc. Non-probate transfer designations trump other types of estate planning including wills and trusts. They’re a valuable tool in ensuring that your assets do not become subject to probate upon your death.
What is a will?
A will is the series of instructions you leave for your loved ones and the probate court on how to handle your assets when you die. It is one document within an “estate plan.”
Your will allows you to designate who you want to represent your estate during the probate process and to whom your assets should be distributed at your death. This includes:
- Designating a guardian for your minor children
- Identifying your heirs
- Designating your Personal Representative to handle the process of administrating the estate
- Identifying exactly how you want your assets to be distributed, including instructions for paying third parties and taxes
- Establishing how you would like your remains disposed of: cremation or burial
Your will is filed with the probate court to be used upon your death. Your will does not control any distribution of your assets during your lifetime or if you become incapacitated.
At Moore Legacy Law, your estate plan is less about completing a draft of the document and more about helping you understand your options, how they work together, and whether there are more efficient ways to distribute your assets at your death, such as putting your assets into a trust to avoid probate court.
Does a will avoid probate?
A will does not avoid probate court. Probate court eats up a lot of time and money. To avoid your estate being probated upon your death, you need a trust-based estate plan.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal relationship between three entities: a grantor (the person who makes the trust), the Trustee (the person who holds in their possession the property held in trust), and the beneficiary (the person or entity that benefits from the property held in the trust).
The grantor gives the Trustee the right to distribute assets held in the trust upon the grantor’s death. The trust agreement outlines the rules the Trustee must follow including:
- Instructions on how to administer the trust at the incapacity or death of the creator
- Instruction on how to hold or distribute trust property at the death of creator
What are the benefits of a trust?
- Avoid probate – which eats up time and money, causing delays in distributing inheritances and smaller amounts to be distributed
- Better control how their assets are distributed: Everything in a will goes “outright” to your beneficiaries – they get the whole amount (after probate fees) as soon as it’s available (after probate delays). With a trust, you can make stipulations. For example, you can detail when you’d like your minor children to receive payments and how much each should be. (And again, this is huge: you avoid probate fees and delays.)
- Protect beneficiaries from their own creditors as well as yours
- Help minimize the Estate Tax
What does a trust NOT do?
A revocable living trust will not allow you to exclude assets for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid.
A revocable living trust will not protect you from an existing lawsuit.
Who needs a trust and why?
Anyone who wants their estate to avoid probate should consider a revocable trust.
How long does probate take?
The time for probate can vary, however, if the probate is straightforward and there isn’t any opposition, it generally takes around 7 months in Missouri. This is because probate requires a 6-month notice period for creditors to make a claim against the decedent’s estate.
How much does probate cost?
Legal fees vary by the value of the property being probated and the complexity of administration. Moore Legacy Law’s fees typically range from 2% to 7% of the value of the property being probated. The more valuable the estate is, the lower the costs are likely to be as a percentage of the estate.
Moore Legacy Law is unique in that we invest in our clients upfront. We take the time to understand your case and provide an early estimate to avoid surprises down the line.
Other costs include court costs, filing fees, publication fees, settlement fees, and bond premiums. They vary by county but typically range from $500 to $1,000.
Finally, the Personal Representative is entitled to a fee for their services. In Missouri, that fee is calculated according to the following schedule:
On the first $5,000, 5 percent
On the next $20,000, 4 percent
On the next $75,000, 3 percent
On the next $300,000, 2 3/4 percent
On the next $600,000, 2 1/2 percent
On all over $1,000,000, 2 percent
How do I avoid probate?
There are some tools that allow you avoid probate upon your death. These include a trust-based estate plan and Non-probate transfer designations. Moore Legacy Law will help you assess your assets and determine which tools make the most sense to ensure that your assets are not subject to probate upon your death.
How can we help you protect loved ones?
Your initial consultation is on us.
Attorneys Jim Moore, Curtis Moore, and/or Dan Stuart will listen and learn your goals and situation. We will point you in the right direction and recommend the best service to meet your needs.
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