The Law Office of Kurt H King

January 18, 2012

Four Basic Estate Planning Documents

Filed under: Estates/Probate — kurthking @ 5:07 pm
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The 4 basic estate planning documents for those whose wealth does not call for tax planning or other complications:

1.  Beneficiary Deed and Designations:  Designate beneficiaries on your bank accounts, life insurance, retirement, vehicles, etc., yourself using the forms from the bank, license bureau, insurance company . . . .  And have the attorney prepare a beneficiary deed on your real estate so it passes to the named beneficiary(s) without the cost and delay of probate–one of the best tools in the box.

2.   Will:  Have the attorney prepare a Will for you so that any property that you own in your name alone at death–and for which there is no valid beneficiary designation–will pass to persons or charities as stated in the Will.  When a Will comes into play, that means a trip though the channels of probate which typically costs time and money, so try to have proper beneficiary designations on all your assets to avoid probate.  Your Will is also the place to name those persons you want to be guardians and/or conservators for your children if they are minors or unable to handle their own affairs at the time of your death.

3.  Power of Attorney:  Have the attorney prepare at least a general Durable power of attorney to name a trusted person to take care of your affairs in case you are unable to do so due to illness or lack of capacity.  The power of this document “dies” when you die–it is for when you are alive.  Some prefer to have a power of attorney for general/financial purposes, and a separate durable health care power of attorney to cover life support, feeding tubes, and the like.

4.  “Living Will”:  This is a health care directive often provided by your hospital or doctor to state your directives as to life support, feeding tubes, and so on when your illness is terminal.  Because this document covers situations where your condition is terminal, it is NOT necessarily controlling when you might live for months or years in a vegetative or brain dead state.  A health care power of attorney is the tool to use to cover situations where the illness is NOT terminal but reduces the quality of life below the point where one would want to subsist.  The landmark Missouri case on situations where the vegetative condition is not terminal is Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990).

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068


Bankruptcy, Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury, Child Custody & Support, Divorce & Modification, Family Law, & General Matters

January 3, 2012

Beneficiary Deeds and Designations in Missouri

Filed under: Estates/Probate,Uncategorized — kurthking @ 4:07 pm
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Beneficiary deeds are possibly the best deal in the legal world.  Usually cheaper than a traffic ticket, a beneficiary deed on real estate (residential or commercial) can pass title upon death directly to the beneficiaries named in the deed, in likelihood saving 6-12 months of time in probate court, probate attorneys fees, and probate fees based on the value of the real estate, all of which amounts to several thousand dollars.  Practically all single or widowed persons with property in their own name should have a beneficiary deed, and married or joint owners should too since both could die unexpectedly.  (Note that the above may well not apply if you have put the real estate in a trust, limited liability company, corporation, or some other legal entity which does not “die” when you do.)

While lawyers typically prepare beneficiary deeds involving real estate, a lawyer is generally not needed to make beneficiary designations that do much the same as to personal property such as TOD/POD’s on bank accounts, life insurance beneficiary desigations, TOD’s on titles to vehicles and such, beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, and TOD’s on stock certificates and certificates of ownership in a LLC, to list a few.  The bank, license bureau, or insurance company should have the form you need and can help you fill it out to save considerable time, money, and hassle in transferring ownership of the asset quickly to the beneficiary. 

The advantage of beneficiary designations over joint ownership is that you as the owner may sell, encumber, or take other action WITHOUT the consent or approval of the beneficiary.   In other words, the property is all yours and the beneficiary has no ownership rights until till death and then only if you still own the asset.  Nor do any creditors of the beneficiary have any rights or liens on the asset before the owner’s death.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068


General Practice and Litigation, Wills, Real Estate, Bankruptcy, Personal Injury & Missouri Workers’ Compensation

Child Custody & Support, Divorce & Modification, Family Law

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