Traditional & Pour-over Wills
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that provides instructions for the distribution of your property, upon your death.
The primary functions of a Will:
(1) Nominates someone to act as your Personal Representative.
(2) Names general and specific gifts.
(3) Provides instructions for your final remains.
(4) Nominates a Guardian for any minor children or dependants.
(5) If you have a Trust, your Will can move property into your trust.
What is a "Personal Representative?"
A Personal Representative oversees the administration of the your estate after your death. Specifically, those portions of your estate that are not in a Trust. Property not in a Trust generally must go through Probate court to be distributed.
Probate is a court-controlled process for distributing the property of a deceased person. In Missouri, the fees associated with probate are set by law and are based on the size of the estate. A Personal Representative would be responsible for hiring an attorney to handle this process. However, property in a Trust is not subject to probate. Additionally, probate is almost always more expensive than having a Trust formed (even for small estates). Because of the cost, time, and hurdles involved, we frequently advise clients to consider a Trust, in addition to their Will, to avoid or minimize their assets' exposure to probate.
Who should I appoint as my Personal Representative?
Individuals can choose to name a person, an institution (e.g. a bank or trust company), or a combination of both. We typically advise clients to select a family member or someone they trust, that is capable and responsible. Likewise, it is advisable to include a few back-up Personal Representatives in case your first choice is unavailable for any reason.
What is a "Pour-over Will?"
A Pour-over Will is a type of Will that is used when your Estate Plan includes a Trust. Pour-over Wills and Trusts work in a complementary fashion. When you pass away, if their is property you have forgotten to move into your Trust, a Pour-over Will directs for that property to be transfered into your Trust.
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