WILLS AND TRUSTS

St. Louis Wills and Trusts Lawyers

When it comes to estate planning, most people think of Wills and Trusts. Although a Will and a Trust differ significantly, each instrument allows the maker to decide who will receive his or her assets and property. At Bruntrager & Billings, our attorneys will help you decide whether a Will or a Trust is the best choice for your estate-planning needs.

Contact our firm online or call 314-646-0066 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Wills

A Will is the instrument mostly commonly considered by people discussing estate planning. A Will sets forth who will receive your property on your death. It also allows the maker, known as the testator, to name a guardian for minor children and to set up a trust to benefit the children, typically covering living, educational and other expenses.

A Will is not a means of avoiding probate court. Instead, the document advises the probate court with regard to how assets are to be distributed. For a Will to be valid in Missouri:

  • The testator must be at least 18.
  • The testator must be of sound mind.
  • The will must be signed.
  • The will must be witnessed by two people unrelated to the testator.

When a person dies without a will, any property that is titled solely in the decedent's name is distributed to beneficiaries designated by state law.

Trusts

Whereas a Will only goes into effect once the testator dies, a Trust can be used while the maker is still living, and a properly drafted Trust does not need to be probated in court.

Trusts typically fall under two categories: Revocable and Irrevocable. A Trust maker can revoke a Revocable Trust during his or her lifetime. Once an Irrevocable Trust has been created, it may not be dismantled.

Although an Irrevocable Trust does not shield the maker's assets from creditors, it may protect assets from creditors' claims after the maker dies. A creditor stands in the shoes of a beneficiary, and if the beneficiary does not have the power to force a distribution the creditor does not, either. However, a creditor may seize Trust assets once they have been distributed to the beneficiary.

The selection of a Will, Trust or some combination of the two depends on each person's unique circumstances. Generations of families have turned to Bruntrager & Billings for estate-planning advice.

To schedule your free initial consultation with our St. Louis estate-planning attorneys, contact us online or call 314-646-0066.

 

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