April 18, 2020

Now is a more important time than ever to be reviewing your estate plan, and remember, estate planning is essential for everyone, maybe now more than ever. Here’s a few things you should be reviewing to keep your loved ones protected.

  1. Review Your Documents.

Your plan should include at least powers of attorney for health care and financial matters as well as a Last Will and Testament. Many families also take advantage of having a trust. You should be regularly reviewing your documents to ensure they accurately portray your wishes, and what better time to do this than when you are stuck inside anyway! Worst case if you can’t sleep at night a quick review may do the trick.

  1. Review how your assets are titled / Make sure you’ve funded your Trust.

A question we are frequently asked is “doesn’t a will help avoid probate?” It does not. In fact, the Will only controls what actually goes through probate. To take it a step further, how your assets are titled would trump your wishes you’ve made in your will. This would include joint ownership on bank accounts (which I rarely recommend doing unless you’re married) and use of beneficiary designations.

Funding a Trust is extremely important. Just creating a trust is not going to automatically place all of your assets in a trust. You will need to go a step further and actually re-title all of your property into the name of the Trust. Depending on the nature of the property some items can be owned outright by the Trust, while others are better to list the trust as the beneficiary. You will also need to stay on top of this as your life progresses. You are more than likely not going to own all of the same property 5 years from now that you do today, so as you buy/sell/barter make sure those new assets are included in your Trust. It’s not hard to do, it just takes time (something many of us have a lot more of right now).

  1. Make Sure Your Parents and Other Loved Ones Have a Plan as Well.

Probate is a pain and should rarely be needed. It’s also expensive. Most probate filings in Missouri require the assistance and experience of an attorney, and the probate pain is only experienced by your heirs. Putting together a properly drawn up estate plan is an unselfish act. You only do it to help those you care about, but when done correctly it can significantly reduce (or even eliminate) the fighting between loved ones that often takes place.

The spread of COVID-19 has created a new and unexpected risk for everyone around the world, and in our community. We wouldn’t be able to get through this without our front-line heroes. Denker Law Firm is now offering a 20% discount to all those working on the frontlines during this pandemic to help them make sure they have their essential estate plan in place.

Tim Denker is an attorney for Denker Law Firm, LLC. located at 229 SE Douglas, Suite 210 in Lee’s Summit. He can be reached at (816) 434-6610, tdenker@denkerlawfirm.com, or denkerlawfirm.com.