estate planning

Estate planning isn’t a topic that most Missouri residents want to think about. Planning for the end of your life can be difficult and emotional, but it’s a necessary step to take if you want to protect your assets to distribute to your loved ones after death. No matter your age, it’s never too early or late to consider what you want to happen to your estate. Three of the most important legal documents you can create are wills, trusts, and POAs, and we’ll go over all three to help you get started on your estate planning journey. 


A will, or Last Will and Testament,  is one of the most important documents you can have when it comes to estate planning. Wills are legal documents that allow you to distribute your assets to beneficiaries according to your wishes. Things like land/real estate, cash, and personal property are all different assets that should be included in a will. In Missouri, anyone over the age of 18 and of sound mind can create a will. The legal requirements for will writing in Missouri also include two witnesses present at the signing of the will. Typically, witnesses should be someone with no interest in the outcome of the will; that is, two or more people who aren’t named as beneficiaries. If you prefer to have one of your beneficiaries present as a witness, you should also include two neutral witnesses at the time of signing. 


Like wills, trusts are important when distributing assets to your loved ones. However, while a will goes into effect after a person passes away, trusts can be effective during your lifetime. Essentially, trusts serve the purpose of putting a third party (trustee) in control of distributing certain assets should you become incapacitated or unable to make those decisions yourself. Different types of trusts serve different purposes, and you should explore your options with a Missouri estate planning lawyer to choose the best option for you. For example, a Revocable Living Trust can help with the transfer of assets and property under certain circumstances during a person’s lifetime. As the name implies, the person creating the trust (grantor) has the option to amend or revoke the trust at any time. Other types of trusts are irrevocable and cannot be changed. Whatever trust you choose, you should know that creating a trust is one of the best ways to protect your assets/property while avoiding taxes and preserving your legacy while avoiding probate.


Although a Power of Attorney (POA) isn’t a part of everyone’s estate plan, it can serve an essential purpose for some. Broadly speaking, a POA is someone you legally assign to operate on your behalf. Medical POAs, for instance, can make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. A durable POA is someone who can make financial designs for you, such as paying your bills, filing taxes, and selling/buying property. Some choose to assign a POA to plan for mental decline at the end of life, while others face lifelong medical complications and prefer to have one in place. Assigning that power to anyone can be a big decision, but going over your options with an estate planning attorney can help ensure that your decision is the correct one for you. 

Missouri Estate Planning Attorneys are Here to Answer Your Questions

Are you ready to start planning your estate, but overwhelmed at the thought? Do you need to amend or revise your current estate plan? The estate planning attorneys at Mark Harford Law are here to offer advice and assist you through every step of the estate planning process. We can help you find a strategy that’s unique to your situation while accomplishing your personal and financial goals. Contact Mark Harford Law today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you plan your estate.