Wills Attorney in Columbia, Missouri
Nobody likes thinking about their own mortality, but the more you prepare for the inevitable, the better you’ll feel because you’ll know your loved ones will be taken care of. I’ve been helping individuals and families with their estate planning needs for over three decades and know the importance of a well-written will.
If you’re considering your options for estate planning, but aren’t sure where to start, call David W. Walker Attorney At Law today to set up an appointment. I help clients in Columbia, Missouri, and the neighboring areas of Jefferson City, Fulton, and Boonville.
Whether you are drafting your will or updating an existing estate plan, I can guide you through every stage of the legal process and help you navigate any key decisions along the way. Together, we can explore all of your estate planning options and discuss what makes sense for you and your family.
Overview of Wills
The most basic component of an estate plan is a will, and there are a few different types you should consider. With my help, we can ensure your will is tailored to your specific needs and is legally binding.
A simple will (also called a statutory will) is the most basic kind and may be best for those with very few assets. A pour-over will is used in conjunction with a trust and ensures that any assets that were not part of the trust eventually go into it after probate. A joint will is similar to a simple will except that it’s signed by two people and covers the wishes of both (commonly used for a married couple).
One last type of will is called a living will, but it doesn’t distribute assets. Rather, it spells out your wishes for end-of-life medical care should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. Living wills are also referred to as advance healthcare directives.
The most basic function of a will is to distribute property and assets to your beneficiaries after you pass away. Wills can also name a guardian for any minor children you have and allow you to name an executor who will carry out your wishes. There are a number of commonly inherited assets that wills can include, such as property, cars, investments, art, and collectibles. However, if an asset is jointly owned (say with a spouse), that asset will go to the joint owner instead of through a will.
Why Having a Will Is Important
If you die without a will (intestate) the state will decide what to do with your assets. Typically, the court will assign an administrator to manage your estate (usually a family member) who is responsible for inventorying, assessing, and distributing your assets, as well as addressing any existing debts and paying those off with your assets before distribution.
They will also be in charge of any expenses related to probate, the process where a court “proves” your will and assets before they can be distributed. Probate is usually required for wills, but the process can become much more expensive and time-consuming if you die intestate.
By taking the time to create a thoughtful and thorough will, you not only ensure your assets go where you want them to, but also that you’re not putting an undue burden on your surviving family members.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
A trust is another estate planning tool that can be used separately or in conjunction with a will. In many respects, a will and a trust perform the same function, but trusts are preferable for those with larger estates, those who wish to maintain some control over their assets while they’re still alive, and those who want to avoid probate. Setting up a trust essentially transfers ownership of your assets into the name of a trustee. The trustee ensures that when you pass away, the assets are no longer connected to your name and can be distributed through the trust instead of the court.
Wills Attorney in Columbia, Missouri
No matter what your age or the scope of your assets, everyone can benefit from having an estate plan. I’m happy to help those with smaller, straightforward estates, as well as those with larger, complex estates that may need a trust in addition to a will. Call David W. Walker Attorney At Law in Columbia, Missouri, today to get started.