Doubts may discourage Missouri residents from estate planning

Estate planning is not only for the rich, but for any person who wants to distribute his or her property to his loved ones or to charity. As such, it is recommended that every person, from Missouri or elsewhere, create an estate plan.

Through a well-defined estate plan, a person can decide on the future of his or her assets, as well as debts. However, some people have doubts related to estate planning, and those doubts may discourage Missourians from creating a plan. Understanding the estate administration process may help the person make the correct decisions.

One of the most common misconceptions is that estates that have little value do not need a plan. This is not correct as any amount of property may have to go through the same process of probate as properties of high value.

A person should remember that preparing a will does not end the process. Wills dictate the wishes of the person on distribution of property and assets, but a probate court must still make sure that the named beneficiaries receive the assets. As changes in laws and personal conditions may affect the estate plan, it is wise to review the plan periodically. The person may also create a revocable living trust to manage the property.

Some people believe that creating a trust restricts their enjoyment of the property, but that is not necessarily true. As a revocable trust is under the property owner's control, it can be amended and revoked throughout the life of the property owner. The owner may also appoint a person to manage the estate. During estate administration, the estate of the person is gathered by the executor, debts are paid and the remaining property is divided.

Source: TC Palm, "Explaining common misconceptions about wills and trusts," Robert Schwartz, June 18, 2014

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