If you are concerned about your children’s future when you die, an estate planning attorney in Missouri can help you create a Will and establish a guardianship by adding a clause to your Will stating whom you wish to raise your children.

The Will

A will is a document setting forth your final wishes to become active upon your death, including making specific gifts to people, creating a trust, naming your executor, and nominating a guardian for your children. Through your Will, the “executor” (a personal representative chosen by you) distributes your assets, pays your debts and expenses, and allocates remaining funds to your beneficiaries. Wills are highly effective at distributing assets but, generally speaking, cannot avoid the expense and aggravation of probate, the court process which proves a Will valid or invalid.

Guardianship

Via your Will, the guardianship names one or more individuals you have selected to raise your children.

A Living Trust

Unlike a Will which goes into effect upon your death, a Living Trust is created and executed during your lifetime. The main advantages of a living trust are to avoid probate court, access private management of assets if you are incapacitated, protect and maintain assets for minors and disabled beneficiaries, and ensure privacy for your affairs. A properly funded living trust is the best way to avoid probate, ensuring your estate loses no value and your assets are distributed as you wish.

Which is right for you? Wills are often used to “wrap up” your affairs, while trusts provide for your family for a longer period. With a Will, children usually receive their share in a lump sum upon turning 18. A trust, on the other hand, can help younger children to enjoy maximum benefits from their portion of the estate, by being set up to distribute funds gradually, or upon milestone completions (for example, upon college graduation).

Ensuring that your estate plan fits your needs and circumstances and your assets are protected for future generations can bring tremendous peace of mind. In Missouri, families often turn to Quinn Estate & Elder Law for help.