ESTATE PLANNING & ADMINISTRATION
Estate planning is just like any other kind of planning. It requires looking closely at what you’re trying to accomplish, then laying out the steps necessary to reach those goals. If, for instance, you own a business, your estate plan is going to hold certain components. If, on the other hand, you have a special needs child, your estate plan will look completely different.
Fortunately for you, we at Thomas & Bayes-Weiner, LLC are invested in building the estate plan that is right for you and your family. In fact, our mission is to create an estate plan or trust that is specialized to fit your needs and goals.
Estate Planning Components
There is a misconception that writing down your wishes on a piece of paper means that you have a will, and then you’re set for life on your estate plan. However, there’s a bit more to it than that. A good estate plan has many components — really any combination of those discussed below. It all depends on the unique needs of you and your family.
Wills & Probate
“Will” is by far the most commonly recognized word in the estate planning dictionary. Wills are a popular place to begin the estate planning process because they are very affordable and don’t require a lot of stress up front. That being said, you should explore all of your options before sticking with this tool. After all, wills do not avoid the lengthy and costly probate process, whereas trusts do.
“Probate” is a term you’re likely to hear alongside “will.” The reason — a will holds no value until it is probated. Visit our probate and trust litigation page to learn more about this process.
Revocable living trusts
As its name implies, this kind of trust is “revocable,” meaning it can be changed by the person who created it, and it is established while that person is still living. A revocable living trust allows its creator to declare a trustee A) during their lifetime, B) in the event that they become incapacitated and C) after they have passed away.
Whoever is named the trustee at any given time is responsible for managing the trust creator's assets during life and distributing those assets upon their death.
Durable powers of attorney
When you set up durable powers of attorney, you are choosing a person you trust to make decisions for you should you become unable to make those decisions yourself. More specifically, you can declare someone to be in charge of your financial decisions, as well as someone to be in charge of your healthcare decisions when you are unable.
Advanced directives (A.K.A. “Living Wills”)
While powers of attorney can give someone else permission to make healthcare decisions for you, advanced directives allow you to make healthcare decisions for yourself — simply in advance. In other words, if you set up advanced directives, you are instructing future physicians regarding resuscitation, extraordinary measures, end-of-life care and other medical considerations. Of course, it’s impossible to think of everything that could happen, which is why it’s best to also have durable powers of attorney in place.
Special needs trusts
In our practice, we work with many disabled children and their parents. It is our privilege to help them set up special needs trusts to get the government benefits they need. If you want to pass on your assets to a disabled child or family member, please reach out to us for help. It’s crucial to handle these matters the right way to ensure that your loved one gets what they need without losing their government benefits.
Business succession planning
If you are a business owner, having a business succession plan in place is a must. After all, you’ve worked hard to build your legacy. You want to be the one in control of how it continues after you’re gone. Tell us about your business, as well as your vision for its future, and we’ll use our legal knowledge and experience to ensure your vision is protected by your estate plan.
Because we are so well-versed in estate planning matters, we are also a go-to law firm for estate administration in the Kansas City area. In other words, if you have lost a loved one and need help enforcing their will or trust, we are the ones to call. Not only will we guide you through the probate or trust administration process effectively from a legal standpoint, but we will also treat you with the utmost compassion and care.
KANSAS CITY ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS
Life’s unpredictability is one of the greatest things about being human. However, it can also leave us unprepared for the inevitable. Don’t wait to put safeguards in place that protect what matters most to you. Call us for a friendly, informative consultation so we can get started on your personalized estate plan.