CAPE GIRARDEAU ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY
A friend of mine works at P&G outside of Cape Girardeau. He often refers to the 5 Ps – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Estate Planning is “Proper Planning” for you and your family. Without it, decisions about your life and property may be made by the government, a nursing home administrator, or a controlling daughter-in-law.
When you think of Estate Planning you will likely think of the estate planning instruments we use such as a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Directive, a Will or Trust. Yet, those are all just tools. The key to Estate Planning is providing a service – a process that ensures that you stay in control and that your property is handled by (1) who you want, (2)when you want, and (3) inthe way you want.
We are glad that you are reading this as estate planning is something that is often procrastinated. Almost 80% of our clients do not currently have any estate planning documents. Clients often remark that it has been something they have been talking about doing for years prior to coming into my office.
Whatever your situation is, we are happy to help. We have estate planning clients throughout Southeast Missouri including in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Marble Hill, Charleston, New Madrid, and Poplar Bluff.
We help clients avoid probate court, make things easy for their surviving spouse and children, reduce the likelihood of family conflicts, and protect their assets.
Upon receiving their original estate planning instruments, most of our clients comment about how good it feels to “have it all taken care of”.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI ESTATE PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATION ATTORNEY
What does it mean to have “it all taken care of”? It depends upon you and your situation. If you have a business, that means have a business succession plan. If you have a farm, it means making sure the land is going to stay in the family and away from creditors and be protected if a child divorces. If you are concerned about the cost of nursing home care, it likely means some type of Medicaid Asset Protection.
Many of our clients ask us to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, Will and Trust for them. Below is information about each of these estate planning tools.
It is important for you to know that in the absence of any planning, your estate will be distributed according to Missouri’s laws of intestacy. This so-called “default” estate plan might not reflect your wishes. However, if you do plan in advance, you can have your estate administered according to your preferences.
Here are the Estate Planning Fundamentals.We are happy to discuss any questions you have about this material.
ESTATE PLANNING FUNDAMENTALS
1. LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A last Will and Testament is one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a Will, they are said to have died “intestate” and state law will determine how their assets will be distributed. Some things you should know about wills:
- A Will has no legal authority until after death.
- A Will does not help manage a person’s affairs if they become incapacitated.
- A Will does not help an estate avoid probate.
A Will can be used to nominate the guardians of your minor children in the event that they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should have a Will to document their choice of guardians for their children. If you leave the appointment of guardian to chance, you might cause a substantial amount of family infighting, and your children could end up with the wrong guardians.
Trusts can serve a variety of legal, personal, investment or tax planning purposes. At the most basic level, a trust is an agreement with at least three parties involved: (1) the trust-maker (the grantor or settlor), (2) trust manager (the trustee), and (3) the trust beneficiary.
Sometimes, all three parties are one person or a married couple. In the case of a revocable living trust, a person may create a trust and name themselves as the current trustee to manage the trust assets for themselves as a beneficiary with their children as contingent beneficiaries. In fact, this is the most common type of revocable living trust we see for married couples.
Depending on the situation, there may be many advantages to creating a trust, including the avoidance of probate. In most cases, assets owned in a revocable living trust will pass to the trust beneficiaries immediately upon the death of the trust-maker(s) with no probate required. Certain trusts also may result in tax advantages both for the trust-maker and the beneficiaries. Trusts may be used to protect property from creditors, or simply to provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the trust-maker(s) and the named beneficiaries. If properly drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated.
3. POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney is a legal document giving one person (the agent) the legal right to do certain things on behalf of another person who grants those powers. A power of attorney may be very broad or may be very limited and specific.
All powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the principle, and may terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated. When the intent is to designate a back-up decision-maker in the event of incapacity, then a durable power of attorney should be used. Durable powers of attorney should be frequently updated, because the IRS, banks, and other financial institutions may hesitate to honor a power of attorney that is more than three years old.
4. HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
A Health CareDirective is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care a person wants if they lose the ability to make and communicate their own decisions.
Anyone over the age of 18 may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in Missouri. An advance directive can specify who will make and communicate medical decisions in the event of incapacity, and it can set out the circumstances under which life-prolonging treatment would be denied. For example, a person may want to have an advance directive to deny treatment if they are ever in a permanent coma with no reasonable chance of recovery.
A document that usually accompanies an advance directive is an HIPAA Authorization to your medical providers that allows specified individuals, who could be friends or family members, access to medical information. Without this type of prior written authorization, doctors are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information.
5. OTHER ESTATE PLANNING INSTRUMENTS
Estate Planning can be simple or complex. We assist individuals with the following:
Last Will and Testament
- Revocable Living Trust
- Special Needs Trust
- Irrevocable Trust
- Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
- Living Wills
- Durable powers of attorney
- Medical powers of attorney
- Advanced medical directives
Estate administration is the process of distributing assets where they were intended to go. There can be issues with debts and taxes. We provide assistance with Estate Administration and help provide closure for our clients. We know clients may be upset and distraught during the estate administration and probate process. We are here to take the sting and bite out of this large responsibility. Our firm will be attentive to your needs and handles the issues involving trust administration and ancillary administration.
We provide representation to:
- Personal Representatives
ATTORNEY MARK MCMULLIN IS HERE TO HELP
Attorney Mark McMullin’s practice focuses on Estate Planning. His office is located in Cape Girardeau Missouri and he serves clients throughout Southeast Missouri.
Estate Planning and estate administration lawyer Mark McMullin helps his clients plan and navigate the often-complicated areas of estate planning. Estate planning consists not only of traditional wills and trusts but also of alternative estate planning techniques such as beneficiary designations and gift deeds.