Estate Planning Attorney Chesterfield MO

You are your own estate. Your physical being and all rights appurtenant thereto. Your freedom and ability to make decisions about Activities of Dailing Living and Finances. Your Estate also includes your property, both personal and Real estate. You are the ‘Captain of your own Ship” making important decisions day-to-day.

General Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document appointing a person you trust to perform certain functions as if you were performing them yourself. POAs can be very limited or very broad depending on the desired functions performed. This can be a good way to handle a particular decision and can become effective upon your signing. An example can be designating someone to close a real estate transaction on your behalf while you are out of town. A broader example would be designating someone to manage all  of your finances. They are held to a fiduciary standard.

Durable Power of Attorney – Healthcare/Financial

These are often “springing” in nature. If you become incapacitated, the attorney in fact’s powers spring into being. The Attorney in Fact would be able to make Important medical decisions during your incapacity if you create a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE.

A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY – FINANCES allows your attorney in fact to manage your finances, pay your bills and other financial situations as directed by the power granted in the document.

POAs can be tricky but very useful. They terminate either by the competent revocation of the Grantor (person creating the POA) or by operation of death.

There is no need to get a Court Order creating or terminating POAs. You can create them upon signing. You can terminate them in writing.

Mark Harford can help you decide if POAs are beneficial to your estate.

Last Will and Testament 

A Last Will and Testament can be an essential component of a complete estate plan. A person who dies with a valid Will is determined to have died “Testate”. A person who dies without a will is determined to have died “Intestate”. Beneficiaries under an Intestate estate are known as “Heirs at Law”. Rightful Heirs are determined by statute. Both Testate and Intestate estates can be probated but are governed by strict procedural rules. As such, a skilled Probate Attorney is needed to guide the estate through this process.

The advantage of a Testate (with a Will) estate is that the Decedent decides specifically who the Legatees (those specifically designated as beneficiaries in the Will) are and what specific asset or portion thereof each designated Legatee receives subject to creditor claims against the Estate.

An Intestate Estate passes to the Heirs at law set forth pursuant Missouri statute. This can be a disadvantage if the Decedent wants to exclude certain individuals from taking a portion of the Decedent’s estate. The Missouri statute could result in someone who the Testator (Decedent) desires not to take property of the estate, being recipients of estate property.

Mark Harford can help you decide whether you should have a written Last Will and Testament, or whet the consequences could be if you chose intestate administration.


One way to pass wealth is via a trust instrument. There are advantages and disadvantages utilizing this method. There are various forms of trusts. There are Revocable Living Trusts which allow a person to transfer property from their estate to beneficiaries thereby avoiding probate for property actually put into the name of the Trust (a process known as: Funding the Trust). If the Trust is revocable, the property can always be put back into the Grantor’s/Settlor’s (person creating the trust).

Trusts can be irrevocable which means the Grantor/Settlor is unable to transfer the property back to themselves. This is sometimes desirable if the Grantor/Settlor is trying to protect certain assets from creditors.

Either trust requires its own Social Security Identification Number and the Trustee will be required to file income tax on any income the trust generates, if any.

Trusts can be difficult to administer, and they require Trustee reporting to all beneficiary’s pursuant statute. Be sure to consult with a trust attorney before choosing this vehicle.

Avoiding Probate

Specific circumstances may allow property to avoid probate administration. Real estate is the type of property that most often avoids probate administration. Preparing your estate plan early on can help you take advantage of such estate planning tools as transfer-on-death accounts, payable-on-death accounts, and revocable living trusts. Oftentimes prospective clients seek out estate planning attorneys because they want to know what they can do to avoid probate administration in the future. 

Contact Law Office of Mark Harford Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

We have years of experience representing clients in estate planning matters. You may feel overwhelmed and frustrated if you are having problems dealing with wills, trusts, and estates. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case. 

You can benefit from understanding all the legal options available to you. Reach out to us today so you can enforce your legal rights and make sure that you have an effective estate plan that will benefit both yourself and your family members.