St. Louis Estate Planning & Trusts

If you should suddenly become incapacitated or pass away, having an estate plan with proper protection for your loved ones, your home, business, assets, and your personal possessions is crucial.

At Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis, a caring estate planning attorney will work closely with you to disclose all the relevant trust and estate planning considerations, make sure you understand them, and develop a trust that accomplishes your wishes.

Estate Planning Considerations

We're passionate about making estate planning less stressful so you walk away knowing you have a solid plan and a funded trust to protect everything you’ve worked so hard for, as well as providing for your loved ones in case you aren’t able to be here to do so.

Why Have a Trust?

A trust is one of the most effective estate planning tools as it 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. Trusts come in many different varieties, including revocable, irrevocable, and trusts providing for pets or individuals with special needs. At Bolinger Law Firm, an estate planning attorney will disclose to you all of the relevant considerations and develop a trust that accomplishes your wishes.

The Parties of a Trust

In a trust agreement, there are typically three different parties to the agreement: the Grantor, the Trustee, and the Beneficiary. The first party to the trust agreement is the called Grantor, also sometimes referred to as the Settlor, Trustmaker, Trustor, or Donor. The Grantor is the creator of the trust and is usually the one who contributes assets to the trust. The Grantor can be one person or multiple individuals, such as a husband and a wife. Additionally, the Grantor dictates the terms, beneficiaries, and distribution patterns of the trust agreement.

The second party to the trust agreement is the Trustee. The Trustee holds title to the trust assets and administers those assets according to the terms of the agreement specified by the Grantor. The Trustee owes certain fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of the trust agreement, including the duty of loyalty and the duty of care.

The third party to the trust agreement is the Beneficiary. The Beneficiary of the trust is the party that receives the trust assets through various forms of distributions. The Grantor may place restrictions on when the Beneficiary may receive distributions of the trust assets, including age and educational restrictions.

Revocable Living Trust

A Revocable Living Trust is a great estate planning tool because it provides unparalleled control over the disposition of your assets, avoids the probate process, and protects you during your incapacity.

This trust is created by the Grantor and he or she controls the management and distributions of the trust assets throughout life. Thus, the Grantor maintains control over the trust assets while living.

In the trust agreement, the Grantor names a successor Trustee that, upon the Grantor’s death or incapacity, carries out the trust in accordance with the terms proscribed within the agreement.

As the name indicates, a Revocable Living Trust is revocable during the lifetime of the Grantor, but typically becomes irrevocable upon the Grantor’s death.

At Bolinger Law Firm, we handle trust administration privately, keeping it out of the court system.

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If I Have a Trust, Do I Still Need a Will?

Yes, you still need what's called a “pour-over will.” A pour-over will acts as a safety net and captures all the excess property that is improperly titled, not funded in a trust, or without a valid beneficiary. Thus, at the Grantor’s death, the pour-over will captures the excess property and transfers it to the trust.

Although a pour-over will requires a probate proceeding, it is less expensive and time-consuming because most of the assets should pass outside of the probate process if properly planned.

Types of Trusts

There are many different types of trust agreements that allow you to accomplish various objectives while also ensuring support for loved ones and virtuous causes.

  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Pet Trusts
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Specialized Trusts

Funding Your Trust

What is “funding a trust?” This is one of the most common questions and extremely important actions concerning trusts. “Funding” a trust is the process of placing the legal title of assets in the name of the trust.

Once a trust is established, it is imperative that any asset acquired later, such as a car or real estate, are titled in the name of the trust at the time of your death. Failing to fund the trust properly leaves it without property and strips the trust of its essential purposes.

In the event that property is not properly placed in the name of the trust or “funded,” the pour-over will captures this excess property and transfers the assets into the trust at your death.

As previously noted, a pour-over will does not avoid probate, so this property would be subject to probate fees. Therefore, it is critical to correctly title and transfer property into the trust to ensure proper administration of the trust and the maximum reduction in probate fees.

Caring Attorneys Here to Help

Contact us today for a free estate planning consultation or to make changes to an existing estate plan, will, trust, living will, or power of attorney. We look forward to meeting you! 636-386-8322