With the close of the summer quickly approaching, kids going back to school, and life going back to “normal,” we thought it might be a good time to go back to the basics and discuss why EVERYONE needs an estate plan. While the reasons a person or family needs an estate plan are vast and varied, it is a FACT that everyone needs an estate plan - period. Now, don’t get us wrong, your estate plan may look nothing like the old Last Will and Testament you read of your grandmothers, but that is because today estate planning can be specifically tailored to your goals, the specific assets you need to plan for, and the circumstances surrounding your world.
We provide you with tips and wisdom to help individuals understand and create roadmaps for the distribution and preservation of assets and why wealth planning is so crucial.
Historically, Missouri trust law prevented beneficiaries of a trust from replacing a trustee absent a showing that the trustee had committed a breach of trust. This law tended to insulate investors administering trusts from competition. Even if beneficiaries were dissatisfied with a corporate trustee who obtained average returns and charged high fees, they could not replace the trustee without proving misconduct. However, Missouri’s trust law has expanded beneficiaries’ power to remove trustees, so Missouri corporate trustees may soon face a more competitive environment.
As if estate planning didn't already seem complicated enough, blended families now make up a growing portion of our demographic and pose many additional considerations when trying to plan for the transition of their estate. When I started my practice as a wealth planning attorney, I would say about two out of ten families that I met with for estate planning or administration purposes were what we call "blended families" - families where at least one person brought children from a prior marriage.
When we meet with families, we not only try to recommend a customized estate plan that incorporates all of their desires, but we then proceed to hound them to get all of their “homework” done once their plan is in place. After all, signing the documents is only the first step. An “unfunded” estate plan is about as worthless as only having one sock. Although getting our clients to do their homework sometimes seems harder than teaching an old dog to do new tricks, we refuse to let our clients fail themselves. So, on the path of funding, we typically start with the house.
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that is troublesome” – Isaac Asimov, American science fiction novelist and scholar. Though it may not be exactly what Isaac Asimov meant, I couldn’t help but think about his quote this past week as my family faced the unexpected and WAY too soon passing of one of our own. Transition is hard ... I mean really hard! Grieving may be exhausting … both physically and mentally but it is an essential and extremely important process for any family in this situation to go through.