St. Louis Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Conditions when a Missouri guardianship can be terminated

Missouri residents know that there may come a time when they must choose a guardian for a beloved family member. It may be that their loved one's physical condition has deteriorated or that this person may now be unable to make their own decisions. But it's important to remember that a guardianship may not have to be in effect for that person's entire life. So here are some situations when a Missouri guardianship can be terminated.

If the guardianship has been set up because the ward or protectee of the guardian was someone who was under the age of 18, the guardianship can end once that person turns 18. Another reason for terminating a guardianship is if a person who was incapacitated regains their mental abilities. They must then petition the court and prove that they have regained their faculties.

Can a special needs trust help someone with special needs?

There are many physically or mentally disabled senior citizens here in Missouri who depend on government programs such as Social Security and Medicaid. However, if these individuals inherit any monetary assets from a recently deceased family member, they may potentially lose these benefits. So are there ways to bequeath assets to a disabled family member without endangering their ability to remain in government programs?

This is the kind of situation where a special needs trust can help. Special needs trusts can help take care of someone who is either physically or mentally unable to take care of themselves by making sure that the disabled beneficiary does not lose their government benefits. With traditional asset distribution from an estate, the government would consider these assets to be additional income and would require the individual to drop out of any program in which they were enrolled. However, with a special needs trust a trustee, and not the beneficiary, controls all of the assets in the trust. Federal programs like Medicaid cannot consider these assets as the beneficiary's. Therefore, the disabled person is allowed to remain in any government program.

Common reasons why people put off developing an estate plan

As people age and raise their families, many begin to see the benefits of developing an estate plan. Even if they may not possess a large amount of assets, they still see the advantages of creating the plan in order to preserve these assets for their loved ones. However, a lot of individuals still refuse to develop an estate plan even though they understand the many benefits it provides. So here are some of the main reasons why people fail to develop an estate plan.

The first reason that people avoid estate planning is because they feel that they don't have the time. Typically, most people are overly concerned with the common day to day activities of their life and they believe that estate planning is a very time consuming and arduous endeavor. And while estate planning does involve some specific tasks, including naming an executor and a list of beneficiaries, this investment of time is one way to avoid a protracted legal battle by the testator's relatives. Developing a good estate plan is one way to make sure that the individual's wishes are carried out.

The difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust

Trust administration is a frequent concern for people in St. Louis. It can be puzzling to understand the different possibilities that are available. Having an understanding over the basics can smooth the process and help people get exactly what they want. Part of this is knowing the difference between an irrevocable trust and a revocable trust.

With a trust, the settlor is the person who relinquishes control of money and assets and leaves them to the responsibility of a trustee. The trustee will, in turn, be responsible for distributing the money and assets to the beneficiaries at a time the settlor decides is appropriate. There are options of trusts including a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. The idea of any trust is to avoid probate. With probate, the court will go through the decedent's personal property and settle anything that is not clear. Avoiding probate will save money and time. In addition, probate is a public record that the decedent might not want available for just anyone to see.

Advanced healthcare directives that can be part of an estate plan

Most Missouri residents know that a will is a very important component of a good estate plan. But there are additional healthcare documents that can be included in the plan that can help cover a variety of different medical situations. So here is a look at the advanced healthcare directives that can be used in Missouri.

The first of these is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Choices. This document is similar to a traditional power of attorney. The only difference is that it allows the testator to name someone who can make health care decisions for them if they should become physically or mentally incapacitated. The testator can specify in this POA if he or she wants the document to take effect as soon as he or she becomes unable to make their own health care decisions or to wait until his or her doctor and another physician certify this to be true. The testator can also choose to have only one doctor make this decision rather than two.

Wills done by legal professionals can help future generations

While human life is uncertain at times, death is often considered the only constant in a person's life. Thus, one of the most important things that a Missouri attorney will suggest to a person is to make sure that they make provisions for loved ones after their death. One of the best ways to ensure that the loved ones are taken care of, at least financially, is to write a will. A will lets the testator make provisions for various people and causes that they love and are passionate about during their lifetime.

In the event that a Missouri resident dies intestate, in most cases, the person's immediate family, such as spouse or children, might still inherit some of the estate. However, the family may also face a lot of legal challenges if the spouse or children of the deceased person are not even aware of the various assets and wealth that were in the deceased individual's name. Furthermore, children from previous relationships and marriages or ex-spouses would, in most cases, not be able to make a good case in court, even if the deceased person wanted to provide for them financially.

Reasons to change a will: Part III

Missouri residents are always advised by experienced attorneys to make a will and to continue to update the various aspects of the will regularly. Such vigilant monitoring often requires the testator to change the existing will at some point. The testator has various options available to that person in order to help explore the various options to change the will legally. Experienced attorneys can often help the testator in such cases.

At the very beginning of the process, one of the simplest ways to change the existing will is to write a new will. However, the testator must ensure that the person declares the old will null and void before making the new will. Attorneys usually accomplish this step by simply putting in a caveat in the new will, which states that all of the terms and conditions of the new will can be enforced and the new will can cancel any earlier will that the testator made. 

Reasons to change a will: Part II

A Missouri resident is not only encouraged to create a will to protect family after the person dies but the person should also be vigilant about the will that already exists. That person can accomplish that with the help of an attorney. Life is constantly changing and the will should also reflect the changing circumstances in the person's life.

In a lot of cases, the testator may seek legal advice before drafting the will and then store it somewhere and forget about it. In such cases, the original will often does not reflect the various people and causes that are relevant at the end of the person's life, thereby defeating the very reason for drafting a will whose purpose is to honor the testator's last wishes.

Reasons to change a will: Part I

A Missouri resident who is compelled to face that person's own mortality often finds it beneficial to consult an attorney in order to create a legal will that will protect the family and loved ones, even after the person has passed away. Many people consider making a will the ultimate form of responsibility since it involves taking care of the person's loved ones and dependents.

However, it should be noted that just making a will and keeping it in a drawer or a safe to be brought out only when the testator dies does not always serve everyone's best interest. Since people and priorities change, the person should update the will on a regular basis and be vigilant about the various conditions that are mentioned in that document.

Missouri attorneys can help avoid probate litigation

Missouri residents have come to understand the importance of having their estate planning in order to protect not only their interests but also the interests of their children, grandchildren and spouse. State authorities have established various initiatives and awareness programs to emphasize the need to create a will, even for people who do not have a vast estate and properties. Even then, there are various instances in which the will that was drafted is found to be invalid by the court.

In that case, it becomes extremely important for the person who has willed the assets and property to the heirs to consult an attorney who can ensure that the will is legal and valid. In a typical case, probate litigation will begin almost immediately after the person dies.