Frequently Asked Questions

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If you have questions regarding estate planning, probate, wills and trusts, business planning or any other services we offer, we are here to answer them. If you can not find the answer to your question below, please contact us.

Why do I need a Trust?

Trusts are essential for safeguarding your assets by putting conditions on how and when your assets are distributed, reducing estate and gift taxes, avoiding costly probate, and protecting your assets from creditors and/or lawsuits.

What is included in a Estate Plan?

At The Law Offices of BJ Richardson, LLC, we work with you to establish an estate plan that includes: a trust, a will, a durable power of attorney for finance, a durable power of attorney for health care, and a warranty deed/real estate transfer.

How long does it take to prepare an Estate Plan?

It typically takes two weeks to prepare an estate plan. However, in emergency situations, we will strive to finish it as soon as possible.

How much does it cost for a consultation?

At The Law Offices of BJ Richardson, we offer free 30-minute consultations. We take this time to get to know you and your situation, answer questions, and discuss strategies moving forward. If you would like to schedule more time or a follow-up consultation, please contact us to discuss additional costs.

How long are Durable Powers of Attorney’s valid?

A durable power of attorney is valid until death.

Can I just get a Will to avoid Probate?

Unfortunately, no. Wills are only effective through probate. The Law Offices of BJ Richardson, LLC can help you through the court proceedings affiliated with probate and trust administration. We provide a broad range of services including probating of wills, estate tax issues, trust administration, and legal counsel for trustees to name a few.

Can I add my children as joint owners to avoid Probate?

Yes, however, it does not protect them from two circumstances: being sued and/or getting a divorce.

What is a Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

There are two types of powers of attorney: one is for financial purposes and one for health and medical.

The financial power of attorney allows you to name someone to make financial decisions. They can have basically the same powers as you would. There are a few limitations on powers that you can’t give to someone else and there are powers that can be granted but have to be expressly stated in the power of attorney. There are also two types of financial power of attorney.

One takes effect at your incapacity and one that takes effect upon your signing in front of a notary public. You need to have a financial power of attorney in case you become incapacitated (durable) otherwise someone would have to petition the probate court where you live to have someone named as your conservator to manage your money and pay your bills. This can be extremely time consuming and expensive.

The same basic tenets apply to a power of attorney and health care directive. This one, however, only applies if you can not make your own decisions. If you don’t have one and you become incapacitated someone would have to petition the court to name you as their guardian and would then be able to make health care decisions for them. This again is time-consuming and can be expensive. A health care directive also allows you to state what end of life measures you want to be able to be withheld or withdrawn (i.e. feeding and water tubes, surgery, CPR, etc.).

What is Probate and why is it bad?

Probate Court is who decides who gets your property in the event you pass away. The court decides this one of two ways. Testate is if you have a will and the will lays out who gets your stuff and intestate If you don’t have an estate plan the State of Missouri has written one for you. It states that your property goes one-half to your spouse and one-half to your kids or all to your kids if you have no wife and all to your wife if you have no kids. If you don’t have either it goes equally between your siblings and parents and then down to nieces and nephews. Probate can take 6 months or even years to do and can be expensive. As much as 5% or more of the value of the assets.

Why do I need an Estate Plan?

We do estate planning for people for several reasons. The first is so that the person can decide who gets their property if something happens to them. The second is trying to avoid the cost and time delay of the probate process.

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