Forming a thorough estate plan involves many steps. Long before a person puts a signature on an estate planning document, they must be sure to identify their goals, name eligible beneficiaries, and understand the legal impact of those documents. As a result, the estate planning process in O’Fallon should take many weeks, if not months.
However, the results are worth the time spent on the process. A comprehensive estate plan will not only ensure that your property moves to the intended parties after your death, but it can also help you to live more comfortably in the future. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney could answer questions about this process and help you grasp your next steps.
Identifying and Evaluating One’s Assets
Every estate plan should begin with the identification and valuation of a person’s assets. The most comprehensive estates consist of the entirety of a person’s property upon their death. Examples of property typically included in an estate include physical items, cash holdings, real estate, and even interest in a business. Ensuring an estate plan is thorough requires a person to specifically identify these assets and determine what they want to happen to them in the future.
Placing a proper value on these assets is also important. While there is no local estate tax, the federal tax may still apply if an estate is worth more than $12 million. An attorney in O’Fallon could help individuals locate, identify, and evaluate their assets during the beginning of the estate planning process.
Selecting the Right Estate Planning Options
In the past, creating an estate plan involved little more than drafting a will. However, wills are inflexible documents that may result in a lengthy and costly probate process. Other, more modern options exist that can bring greater utility and benefit estate planners prior to their death.
For instance, trusts are a versatile and powerful estate planning option. A trust allows a person to place their assets under the control of a trustee with instructions to distribute the property to a beneficiary at a stated time. This may be upon the trust maker’s death or any other point in the future. In addition, placing property into a trust can lessen one’s tax liability or help entitle individuals to receive government benefits. As part of the estate planning process, a dedicated lawyer could work with O’Fallon residents and help them select the right testamentary documents for their circumstances.
Drafting Documents that Conform to the Relevant Legal Requirements
The final step in the estate planning process is the creation and execution of any desired testamentary documents. Perhaps the most important part of this stage is making sure to draft documents with clarity and specificity. The clearer the document, the less likely it is to experience issues in the future.
For the most part, state law is not concerned with what provisions an estate planner includes in these documents. However, there are a few specific rules concerning the formation of wills and trusts. For instance, Missouri Revised Code § 474.320 says that a will must contain the signature of the testator and two witnesses who observed the signing. An attorney could help to ensure that all estate planning documents satisfy the necessary legal requirements.
Discuss the Estate Planning Process in O’Fallon With Our Team
The estate planning process will determine the property rights of your heirs, the future of your business, and your financial security later in life. It is essential that you approach this process with knowledge, confidence, and respect for the importance of testamentary documents. Hiring an attorney to guide you through the O’Fallon estate planning process could provide this peace of mind.
Your estate planning journey begins with the identification and valuation of your assets. Next, our team could help you name the heirs and beneficiaries that will receive these items in the future. Finally, a careful selection of estate planning documents will give your wishes the intended legal impact. Reach out to our office today to learn more about the estate planning process in O’Fallon.