Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Keeping Your Home Out of Probate

By:  Jennifer Boston

Buying a house is probably the biggest and most expensive purchase you will ever make, so it’s important that you ensure that house will be handed down as intended upon your death. There are various methods to transfer your home and avoid probate, such as co-ownership, life estates, and various types of deeds. Two common options for doing this are (1) filing a Beneficiary Deed, which will transfer the property to the designated beneficiary after your death, or (2) transferring your property to your existing revocable trust with a General Warranty Deed.

A Beneficiary deed allows for an owner’s property interest to be transferred on death, to their chosen recipient, without the property getting involved in the time consuming and expensive process of probate. The deed must be filled out, signed in front of a notary, and filed with the recorder of deeds in the county where the property is located.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What About my Belongings?

By:  Jennifer Boston

When creating your will, you may be tempted to include provisions designating who should receive certain items of tangible personal property (things like furniture, jewelry, and collectibles). If you include these specific provisions in your Will and later change your mind or acquire new property, you will need to prepare a Codicil, which is an amendment to you will that may be costly relative to the value of that property.

Instead, Missouri allows for separate Tangible Personal Property Lists to distribute personal items that are not valuable enough to be included in your estate plan elsewhere (Mo. Rev. Stat.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Top 5 Estate Planning Myths

By:  Jennifer Boston

This guide debunks common misconceptions which can lead to trouble for your loved ones down the road.

1.  "I'm not wealthy enough to need an estate plan."

There is no amount of money that signifies one should have a basic estate plan, rather it is something every adult should do. Of course, there is a financial aspect, and it would be a shame if even what you may consider a small estate wasn’t left with the person who you wanted to have it, but there is more to it.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Eight Common Estate Planning Mistakes

By:  Jennifer Boston

Planning for death can be both physically and emotionally challenging so its understandable that mistakes are made. Luckily, any mistakes can be fixed so long as you are alive. This guide explains some of the most prominent mistakes which are commonly made in Estate Planning.

  1. Not having a plan at all.  Regardless of your age or financial situation, it is beneficial to engage in estate planning.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What Should I Do With My Vacation Home?

Ah, the vacation home:  a place of relaxation, where your family can enjoy time together and build memories.  Inevitably, some of your children will love the vacation home and others will have no interest in using it.  How do you balance these interests in planning for your vacation home?

Does your family wish to keep the vacation home?  Before you invest in expensive, complex plans, you should determine whether your family members are interested in keeping the vacation home in the family.  If the next generation has no interest in the property, your trustee or personal representative can simply sell the property and divide the net sale proceeds among your beneficiaries.  If at least one beneficiary is interested in keeping the property, you may need to consider additional issues (below) to help you structure ownership and use of the property.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

IRS Announces Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions for 2017

The IRS has finally released information on federal estate and gift tax exemptions for 2017.  

Individuals will have a federal estate tax exemption of $5.49 million (less lifetime taxable gifts) beginning in 2017.  The federal estate tax exemption applies both to lifetime taxable gifts (those exceeding the annual exclusion amount discussed below) and gifts at death -- either outright or in trust.  So, an individual who makes lifetime taxable gifts of $1.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

When an individual dies with a very modest estate, there is a simplified procedure that permits that deceased person's personal representative, family or heirs to collect his or her assets without the complexity, time and expense of a formal probate proceeding.  In Missouri, the procedure is known as a Small Estate Affidavit, and this procedure is available when a decedent's assets, net of liens, debts and encumbrances, is $40,000 or less.  R.S.Mo.
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Monday, October 10, 2016

How do I file a claim in a probate estate?

If you are a creditor of a decedent who has died, you will need to know how to file a claim against the decedent’s estate in order to protect yourself and preserve the amount due to you.  Below you will find general guidance about the process for filing a claim in a probate matter pending in Missouri.

Generally, claims must be filed within the earlier of six (6) months of the time that notice of the granting of letters testamentary or letters of administration was published or one (1) year after the decedent’s date of death.  R.S.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

529 Accounts

Frequently clients inquire about the best ways to either make gifts to grandchildren during their lifetime or leave a small gift to their grandchildren at their death.  One way to accomplish that gift is to leave money to a 529 Account, named for the Internal Revenue Code Section allowing for the tax favored status of such account. 

A 529 Account is a savings account that is invested, income tax free, for the purpose of funding the named beneficiary’s education.  The deduction does not provide any income tax benefits for purposes of your federal income taxes, but Missouri donors may qualify for a deduction for purposes of their state income taxes.

If you fund the 529 Account during your lifetime, annual gifts of less than $14,000 per donee ($28,000 per donee for a married couple) qualify for the annual exclusion for the gift tax.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?

I am asked this important question several times each week.  There is no right answer to the question.  Consider the following guidelines to determine when and how often your estate plan should be reviewed.


At a minimum, I recommend you review the basic terms of your estate planning documents every 2 years.  You should sit down with your estate planning attorney at least every 3-5 years, although I encourage my clients to sit down at least once a year to discover any new assets and review any changes to the law.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Do I have to tell my family about my estate plan?

No.  The short answer is that you do not have to tell your family (or your friends, your priest, your best friend or anyone else) what provisions you made in your estate planning documents.  Your estate planning documents are private, and you can decide to keep them private for as long as you wish.

But let me play devil’s advocate.  There are several important reasons you may want to disclose some (or all) of the provisions of your estate planning documents.
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