Everyone Needs An Estate Plan

The Law Offices of Christopher Bent, LLC, in St. Louis, Missouri, helps people protect themselves, their property and their loved ones through estate planning, probate administration and litigation. Our attorney has been practicing estate planning law for more than 20 years, and has helped hundreds of families in Missouri and Illinois to preserve assets, care for each other, resolve disputes and provide for charities.

Many people harbor the mistaken impression that estate planning is only for the very rich or the very old, but in fact our clients come to us from all walks of life and from nearly all points in life. We believe everyone needs and deserves an estate plan, and every type of family can benefit from careful planning.

We help people with issues such as:

  • Wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Health care directives
  • Trusts
  • Probate administration
  • Probate litigation

What Happens Without An Estate Plan

The best way to illustrate the importance of estate planning is to explain what happens without one.

When a person dies, all his or her assets become known as that person's estate. Imagine the estate as a pile of belongings, including bank accounts, real estate, family heirlooms and sentimental items. Probate is the legal process of sorting through that pile and distributing the assets to the person's heirs. A probate court is in charge of the process.

If the person left a valid will, the probate court supervises as an appointed executor, settles the estate and distributes the assets according to the person's instructions. If there is no will, the probate court must do this work. It distributes the estate according to state law, essentially tracing the person's family tree and giving the estate to the closest living relatives.

The end result may be very different from what the person would have wanted, or what the relatives need. The process also takes a lot of the court's time, and the costs for it come out of the estate, meaning that there is less to go around to the heirs.

How An Estate Plan Helps

Having a valid will in place helps your loved ones avoid the worst aspects of probate. It saves them time and a good deal of money. It also saves them a great deal of anguish, as it makes your wishes clear, and shows that you were thinking about them. Because your must stand up to legal scrutiny, it is very important that you create it with the help of a lawyer.

Estate planning can also prepare you and your family for difficult changes during your lifetime. With powers of attorney, health care directives and other documents, you can make important decisions in advance, should you later become incapable of making them yourself.

Estate planning can achieve many other ends, as well. Trusts and other estate planning tools can be customized and adapted to fit many needs and help you and your family reach many goals.

Get Started

To speak to an experienced estate planning attorney about your plan, contact our office today. Call 314-439-1546 or contact us by email.