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Category Archives: Estate Planning

New Year, New Trust

This is the time of year to make resolutions and set goals for the new year. Your list might include goals like getting in shape, organizing your house, and traveling more. Another popular New Year’s resolution is to get a will or trust in place. Our firm can help you cross that goal off your list and it will be easier than you think.

Why should you get your planning done in 2024?

  1. Ensure that your assets transfer to the person(s) of your choice
  2. Identify who is in charge of your estate and any money you leave to minor children
  3. If you have children, name who would take care of them if something happens to you
  4. Identify who will make financial or health decisions for you if you can’t
  5. Preserve your wealth by avoiding probate fees and estate taxes
  6. Perhaps most importantly, you will have peace of mind knowing you have a great plan in place

Getting your will or trust done does not have to be a daunting task!

Contact Barchet Law today and schedule an initial meeting. Our staff are friendly, straight-forward, and genuinely believe in getting great plans in place for our clients. You can be finished in just a few weeks! It really could be the easiest goal you cross off your list all year.

Are you going on a big trip?

Are you going on a big trip over spring break or over the summer? Everyone knows that they need to pack, find a place for the dogs to stay, and get to the airport two hours early. But here are a few things you might not have thought about:

1. Turn your water off. If it’s going to be cold, consider turning the main water valve in your house off. This will help keep your pipes from freezing. The last thing you want to come home to is a pool in the basement!

2. Let the police department know you’re going to be gone. If you live in Columbia, you can fill out this form online and the police will increase their trips past your house for the time that you’re gone.

3. Execute a power of attorney for child care. If you are going on that elusive child-free vacation, you should consider executing a special power of attorney for your kids’ care. These documents give someone of your choice the power to make medical decisions for your kids while you’re gone. These only last for one year, so if you’ve done one in the past, you may need to do it again. Call our office if you want more information about this.

4. Update or do your wills and/or trust. Going on a big trip or family vacation is one of the most popular reasons that clients contact us to do their planning. Getting your will or trust in place before you leave will give you immense peace of mind.

What happens if I don’t have a will?

There’s a fancy word for dying without a will in Missouri. It’s called “intestate.” So, what does it mean to die intestate (never got around to doing that will)? It means that the State of Missouri decides how your estate will be distributed. There is a very specific distribution scheme laid out in the Missouri statutes. This distribution is in line with some people’s wishes, but definitely not with everyone’s.

In addition to losing your right to determine who gets your estate, failing to do your will also means you have no say regarding the following:

  • Who will take care of your kids if they are under 18 (called a guardian)
  • Who will be in charge of your estate (called a Personal Representative or Executor)
  • Who will overlook any money your minor children inherit from you
  • How much of your estate each relative inherits
  • Whether your Personal Representative will be supervised by the Probate Court

If you care about any of the above, and our guess is that you do, you need a will! The process is much easier than you think. Most clients only need to meet with an attorney twice and are finished in a matter of weeks. Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary initial meeting.

Why should I have a trust? Part I

Today is our second post in a series of posts about trusts.  Last week, we answered the question, “What is a trust?”  Over the next several weeks we will explain the advantages trusts can offer.

  1. Uncomplicated Asset Management during Life. A revocable trust can avoid probate and manage your assets in the event you become disabled or incapacitated and unable to handle your affairs.  In the event of disability or incapacity, the successor trustee that you designated in the trust, takes over management of the trust assets for your benefit.  This occurs without probate court involvement or changes to your trust.
  2. Avoids Probate upon Incapacity or Disability. A revocable trust is beneficial if you become “incompetent” or incapacitated.  Without a trust, the probate court may need to get involved and a guardian and conservator would be appointed by the court to manage your property and personal affairs.  Court-supervised conservatorship and guardianship is an expensive undertaking, a matter of public record, and very restrictive.  This can be completely avoided with an effective estate plan and if your assets are held and managed by the successor trustee of your revocable trust.
  3. Ease of Changing Your Estate Plan. A revocable living trust will act as the master key to your estate plan.  You can make any changes simply by changing the terms of your trust.  You will not need to contact any banks, life insurance companies or other financial institutions where you have accounts.  One change to your trust changes all accounts, property and assets in the trust.  This makes it easy and efficient to keep your estate plan current and up to date.

Call us today at 573-441-9000 to learn how you can protect your assets and provide for your family with a trust.

Don’t forget to read Part II and Part III of this post.

What is a trust?

Today is our first post in a series of posts about trusts.  Over the next several weeks we will explain what a trust is and the advantages trusts can offer.

An estate planning trust, sometimes called a revocable living trust, is a key document for saving time and money during life, protecting assets, and avoiding probate.  A trust can also make a smooth transition of wealth to children and other beneficiaries in the event of death.

What is a trust?  A trust is a separate legal entity to manage property, according to the terms of the trust, for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  The person establishing the trust is the “Settlor” who usually serves as the first trustee or manager and is usually the initial beneficiary.

What is a revocable living trust?  A revocable living trust is simply a trust made during life that is changeable by the maker (Settlor).

How does a trust work?  We help individuals establish trusts as part of an effective estate plan.  The trust is a roadmap and sets the rules for the management of the maker’s property during life; then, sets out how the property is to be distributed to the beneficiaries after death.  After the trust is created, the maker transfers many of their assets to the trust.

Can the maker get this trust property back?  Absolutely.  In almost every situation, the maker keeps the right to withdraw any assets from the trust, the right to income from the trust and the right to add additional property to the trust.  However, the trust only works on property in the trust.  So, it is usually not advisable to take property out of the trust unless there is a specific reason to do so.

What are the tax consequences of making a trust?  There is no tax due for making and transferring property to a trust.  In most instances, during the maker’s life, there are no additional tax forms to file or tax returns to be prepared.  Because of the complete control the maker or Settlor retains over the trust, the trust is disregarded for both income and estate tax purposes.  There can be very significant estate tax savings through complex types of trusts for high net worth individuals and couples.

Call us today at 573-441-9000 to learn how you can protect your assets and provide for your family with a trust.

How will you pay for long-term care?

Many people, as they approach retirement, begin thinking about how hard they have worked to build their nest egg.  The thought of using the money they worked so hard to save to pay for their future care is not a pleasant one.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 7 in 10 people over the age of 65 will require long-term care.  Therefore, it is incredibly important for those approaching retirement to consider how they will pay for this care.

Did you know that Medicare doesn’t pay for assisted living or nursing home costs?  Fortunately, there are many products on the market to assist with paying for long-term care.  You should speak with your attorney and your financial advisor to determine what options are best for you.  Our office can help you review your estate and finances and determine the best course of action.  Remember, the key is to plan– the longer you wait, the more limited your options.  Call us today.

Giving IRA assets to charity

This article from Forbes summarizes the extension of the IRA charitable rollover rules through 2013.  You can even still rollover some 2012 distributions, but you have to act before the end of January.

Thinking about an annuity? Think again.

Let’s start by saying this: annuities can be a legitimate investment and could be the right thing for you.  That said, instances where an annuity is the best financial tool for your situation are rare.

As with any financial product, you should always ask yourself, “does this product make sense for me, or does it only make sense to the person selling it to me?”  This is even truer with annuities.  Scams and elder financial abuse are rampant in the annuity sales industry.  The simple reason is that the sale of an annuity usually generates a large commission for the salesperson.  The sales pitch usually begins with promises of asset protection and high returns with low or no-risk.

Unfortunately, there are “wealth strategy” companies out there that make a living selling annuities to seniors.  In our experience, this problem is only becoming more prevalent.  It is the rare case indeed when a 15-20 year annuity is the best investment for someone over 80 years old.  In addition to annuities sometimes being inappropriate investments, they can also greatly complicate the application process for Medicaid or Veterans Benefits.  In some instances, investing in an annuity can disqualify an applicant from these benefits for years.

If you or a loved one are considering an annuity, please contact our office to discuss how the annuity would fit into your overall estate plan and whether an annuity is really the appropriate investment for you.  We do not sell annuities or any other financial products.  Instead, we serve as an independent advisor who does not stand to gain or lose a commission.  Our goal is to help you create the best financial and estate plan for your individual situation by avoiding probate, minimizing taxes, and ensuring that your assets pass to your loved ones efficiently.

In the event you do choose to invest in an annuity, or need advice regarding other investments in general, be sure to contact a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).  A CFP is a financial professional who has the appropriate education, licensing and background to give you sound financial advice.  Annuity salespeople or “wealth planners or strategists” that hold no professional designations or licenses should be avoided.

You can find a CFP in your area by searching at this website.

“I don’t have an estate.” Yes you do!

When people hear the words “estate planning,” many think it doesn’t apply to them because they don’t have a sprawling mansion or a Bill Gates sized bank account.  A recent article from Forbes explains why this simply isn’t true.

Your estate consists of everything you own, whatever that happens to be.  So, if you have a vehicle or a bank account, you have an estate.  Estate planning is just the process of formalizing what will happen with your assets after you’re gone.  You have the right to decide who gets your assets and who is in charge of your estate (called a personal representative or executor).  If you don’t formally make these decisions in your will or trust, the State will make the decisions for you.

If you want to exercise your right to decide what happens to everything you have worked so hard for, call our office today.  We will help you ensure that your assets are protected and that your wishes are followed.

Can you write your own will?

Did you know that the vast majority of handwritten wills are not valid in Missouri?  Missouri’s requirements for a valid will are very strict.  If you do not follow the formalities exactly, then your handwritten will is not a will at all.

Your will is important and you want to ensure that your wishes will be followed.  Our office can help you craft a will that reflects your goals and objectives and that will be recognized under Missouri law.

In life, some things have to be precise- your will is one of them.  Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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