Everyone has an estate, but do you have a plan?
DOES A WILL AVOID PROBATE?
The short answer is NO. I will does not avoid probate in Missouri, and in fact by design gives the probate court instructions on what to do with your property when you die. So then, why would someone in Missouri only have a will?
Missouri provides people with other options, including beneficiary deeds and non-probate transfers that allow you to transfer your property outside of the probate court, so that no assets go through probate. We can help you figure out if these laws can help you avoid probate.
Of course, as a lawyer, the infamous answer is always "it depends". For most people, a will is sufficient to protect your estate. Most people can utilize Missouri's non-probate transfers to transfer their assets to their heirs without having them put into the probate court. Since non-probate transfers take care of everything, why should I draw up a will? The answer is simple, it is still necessary and a form of an insurance policy that should you have an asset not be transferred on death, ToD, or have a beneficiary, you still can tell the court who manages your asset through the probate courts, and also how the judge is to distribute those assets. Without a will, the court makes these decisions for you.
So, you said most people need a will and not a trust, why would I want a trust? The answer is relatively straight forward. We recommend that our clients view a trust as an insurance policy to take extra steps to avoid probate. A trust provides more flexibility to prepare and plan for contingencies, and if it is important to a client to do whatever they can to avoid probate, a trust may be appropriate. A trust is also appropriate in the following situations;
You are disinheriting a child
You have a child with special needs or one that may have, disabilities, money management issues, addiction issues, or other concerns
You have young children
You have complicated inheriting instructions (i.e. you want a child provided for, but want your assets to go to a charity after they pass)
You have substantial assets