Wills & Trusts

Independence Will & Trust Attorney

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Wills and trusts are some of the most important estate planning tools you can utilize to protect your estate for your loved ones. Wrabec Law, P.C. has decades of experience assisting clients with their legal needs and will provide the personalized guidance you need to craft a will and trust for your unique circumstances. Whether you seek to protect a large estate or a small estate, Wrabec Law, P.C. is equipped to help. Don’t let the uncertainty of the future prevent you from taking steps to prepare for it. Our experienced will and trust lawyers will make sure your personal goals and interests are being adequately addressed in your will and trust.

Schedule a free consultation with Wrabec Law, P.C. to get started.

What Can a Will Do?

A will, also called a “last will and testament,” is a legal document that allows a person to establish their terms for how they wish their estate should be handled after their death. More specifically, a will allows a person to:

  • leave their property to certain people or organizations;
  • name a trusted individual to manage any property they leave to their minor children;
  • name a personal guardian for their minor children; and
  • name an executor to carry out the terms of the will.

Missouri law also allows individuals to include in their will a separate list of tangible items, such as if they want to gift a personal item to someone specific.

If a person passes without a will, their estate will be distributed by default according to Missouri’s intestate succession laws. This establishes a queue of inheritors from close to distant relatives. Assets like life insurance proceeds or retirement accounts that have named beneficiaries will be passed along to those individuals.

Wills & Trusts Continued

Who Can Make a Will?

Any adult who is 18 years or older (or emancipated) and of sound mind may make a will. In order for the document to be valid, the testator (creator of the will) must sign the document in front of two disinterested witnesses who must also sign it.

Note that wills must go through the probate process, as it is the probate court’s responsibility to oversee the distribution of the property in the will. Wills do not need to be notarized, but doing so will make them “self-proving” and can speed up probate, as the court will accept a notarized will as real and valid without having to seek proof themselves. Notarizing a will entails going to a notary with the two witnesses and signing an affidavit proving each person’s identity and their knowledge of signing the will.

Wills can be modified or revoked at any point in a person’s life simply if they physically destroy the will (e.g., by burning, tearing, canceling) or order someone to destroy the will and then create a new one. To make small changes to a will, the testator could add a “codicil,” or amendment, to the document, but they will need to finalize the change with the same methods as when they first signed the will.

Let an experienced will and trust lawyer help you draft your estate planning documents. Schedule a free consultation with Wrabec Law, P.C. for more information.

What Is a Trust?

Like a will, a trust allows a person to establish who will receive their trust property when they die. Unlike a will, though, trusts do not have to go through the probate process. One of the most common types of trusts is the revocable living trust made during the trust creator’s lifetime. Such a trust can be changed or revoked at any point, and the trustee (creator) of the trust will maintain control of the trust and property until they die. Afterward, a specified “successor trustee” will manage and distribute the trust property directly to the beneficiaries without having to go through probate. 

Keep in mind that trusts cannot be used in place of wills. A will is the most basic estate planning tool everyone should have, but a trust is an additional tool that can make the estate distribution process a lot more straightforward. There are also a couple of things that trusts cannot do but wills can, including designating a guardian for minor children. Trusts generally deal with property matters, while wills can cover a range of matters like the care of their minor children.

Young adults and older individuals alike should think about how they want their property to be distributed in the future. It’s better to prepare sooner than later, and you will have stronger peace of mind knowing your estate will be in good hands and your family taken care of. As a local law firm, Wrabec Law, P.C. is well-versed in Missouri’s estate planning laws and how to navigate wills, trusts, and the ensuing probate process managing your property distribution. 

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