At Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis, our caring estate planning team is your advocate. When you come to us to learn about estate planning, we provide thorough explanations and have an open dialogue to answer all of your estate planning questions and put to rest the false information that you may have previously heard.
Here are a few misconceptions about estate planning and the facts:
False statement: I don’t need an estate plan…my spouse gets everything when I die.
Fact: Not necessarily.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the transfer of property at death because it seems the most logical conclusion. Without an estate plan, your entire estate will pass through probate (potentially for years) and will be distributed as follows:
- If your spouse survives you and there are no surviving children or their descendants, then your spouse will get the entire estate.
- If your spouse survives you and there are surviving children or their descendants, all of whom are children of you and your spouse, then your spouse gets the first $20,000.00 plus ½ of the balance of the estate.
- If your spouse survives you and there are surviving children or their descendants, one or more of whom are not children of your spouse, then your spouse gets ½ of the estate.
Even if your spouse inherits your entire estate, it can be subject to creditors, lawsuits and other relatives contesting your spouse’s sole inheritance, which means drawn out probate and high costs.
False statement: If I have a Will, I avoid probate.
Fact: A Will does not avoid probate. A Will allows you to designate and divide your assets and fulfill your dying wishes without relying on the default Missouri statute. In Missouri, if you die without a legally binding estate plan (Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Asset Protection, or Beneficiary Designations) your assets will be distributed by the court. If you are single with no family, your belongings may go to the state.
False statement: All my property will be distributed as to the terms of my Will.
Fact: Although most of the property in your Will will be distributed accordingly, this is not always the case. For example, property with a Beneficiary Designation will override a Will. If you have a bank account with a friend listed as beneficiary, that account will be transferred to your friend. Therefore, make sure that your beneficiary designations are current.
False statement: Trusts are for the ultra-wealthy.
Fact: Trusts are beneficial to everyone. In fact, they are the preferred estate planning tool. A Trust provides unparalleled flexibility and control over the disposition of your assets. Additionally, Trusts avoid the probate process, provide asset protection, and are highly effective at minimizing estate taxes.
False statement: I don’t need an estate plan until I’m old.
Fact: If you’re starting your working life, have a family and/or dependent children, own a home, or have investments or assets, it’s never too soon. If something should happen suddenly to bring death or incapacitation, your assets and finances could be tied up for years and your spouse and children could suffer greatly.
Get Estate Planning Facts & Learn How You Can Protect Your Family
To get the facts and begin the estate planning process, speak with our caring team at Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis. We provide many estate planning options like a medical directive or living will, a regular will and/or trust, power of attorney, charitable giving and asset protection, probate administration and non-probate transfers, how to minimize your estate taxes, and so much more.