20 YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERTISE
Since 1997 WM Law has been helping real people in the Kansas City area create, protect, and leave a legacy for the next generation. WM Law has been selected as the “Best of the Bar” and we have been the subject of a Time Magazine cover story, but the greatest honor we have received continues to be the thanks of thousands of satisfied clients. With three locations in the Kansas City area, we are never more than a phone call away. Above all, WM Law is here to help!
KANSAS CITY ESTATE PLANNING DONE RIGHT
Estate Planning Tools
Like families, no two estate plans are exactly alike. That is one of the main reasons it is so important you and your estate planning attorney get to know each other. It is also why your attorney needs to understand your wishes, goals, and plans. That being said, there are some tools that are used very often in estate planning. Depending on your circumstances you may use one, some, or maybe all of the tools here in your estate plan. While the following list doesn’t include all of the tools at our disposal, it will help you get started thinking about the types of ways WM Law can help your family.
People often think of an estate plan as some combination of documents. A lot of words on fancy paper with “sound mind and body” and “heretofore” sprinkled in to ensure that our quota of $5 words is met. While you will probably see some legalese in the documents that your dedicated estate planning attorney prepares for you at WM Law, the real tool is the advice your attorney is providing you. That advice is a product of years of training and experience your attorney has gained specifically for your benefit. The documents are just a tangible and portable application of the advice, the care, and the understanding that your WM Law attorney has prepared for you.
The most widely recognized part of an estate plan, a will is only one brick in the wall that protects your loved ones and your family. While a will can list a very detailed account of instructions for the disposition of your estate and for your wishes, relying on a will alone can have serious drawbacks in some cases. A will must be put through the probate process, meaning your property will be tied up in a public court proceeding. Additionally, there are likely to be additional hassles and attorney fees which can be largely avoided by implementing a complete estate plan.
A Living Trust
Let’s say you want to leave an inheritance for a loved one. You don’t want to have your estate go through probate. You don’t want your loved one’s creditors to be able to take his inheritance away from him. You don’t really trust your loved one’s spouse. You don’t want your loved one to blow your life savings on a new Camaro and a trip to Paris. A well drafted living trust can help make any or all of those things happen for you. A living trust is created for your benefit during your life. After that period a new trustee administers the property for the benefit of your loved one. Because the new trustee takes over as soon as the prior trustee is incapacitated, there is no need to go through the probate process.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Durable powers of attorney are a way to make sure you have someone you trust making important decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so, and ONLY when you are unable to do so. There are two basic types of durable powers of attorney: (1) for financial decisions, and (2) for medical decisions. A durable financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone, for example if you were incapacitated in a hospital, to write the checks to pay your bills, to manage your business, and to buy or sell property on your behalf. A durable medical power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to make your healthcare decisions when you are unable to do so. NOTE: simply being married does not ensure that your spouse has the authority to make your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so.
An Irrevocable Trust
Irrevocable trusts are a great way for you to give gifts that keep on giving! As with the revocable trust, it can be drafted to ensure that the beneficiary’s creditors can’t reach it, so it lasts longer than a simple grant of property might, and it makes sure the property isn’t in your estate for death tax purposes.
Transfer On Death Accounts/Deeds
A transfer on death account/deed (TOD) is a way to title property to transfer that property in the event of the death of current owner. A TOD does not have to go through probate, but is only useful for property that has a title or a deed (e.g. you can do a TOD with the title on your car, but it won’t be helpful for your television).
INTERESTED IN ONE OF OUR ESTATE PLANNING PACKAGES?
KANSAS CITY PROBATE SERVICES
When a person passes away either with or without a will, a court order will be required to finalize the affairs of that person and to transfer the property that person owned to the person who will own it now. This process is called probate. The purpose is to make sure that the estate is properly managed, that the parties are treated fairly, and there is something that definitively says what has happened with this property and the estate is closed.
While many of our clients are able to avoid probate entirely, there are occasions where probating an estate is necessary, advantageous, or both. In those cases, WM Law is ready, willing, and able to help you navigate the probate process. Whether WM Law helped you develop your estate plan or not, we will strive to get you the best possible outcome of a probate proceeding and we will strive to get that outcome in the most cost effective way possible.
The attorneys at WM Law have the courtroom experience you need to make sure that the estate is quickly and professionally resolved, without bleeding the estate’s assets dry from attorney fees.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING OR PROBATE SERVICES?
SMALL ESTATE WRAP UP SERVICE
Dealing with the passing of a loved one is never easy, but being the person who has to deal with the business of tending to the affairs of a loved one makes it that much harder. WM Law wants to help make the process of wrapping up the affairs of your deceased loved one as easy for you as possible.
In cases where your loved one’s estate is worth less than $40,000.00 WM Law will help you wrap up those affairs, and will do it for a low fixed fee. We know that when you are tying up the loose ends left by the passing of someone close to you, you don’t want to have to worry about coming up with thousands of dollars in retainer fees and then wondering how many hours you will be billed for each month.
If the estate is valued under $40,000,
WM Law can help you with:
- Transfer personal property
- Transfer title of up to 3 motor vehicles
- Discussions with landlords regarding timing to vacate rental property
- Calls from creditors
- Discussions with attorneys representing your recently deceased loved one
- Administrative issues regarding your loved one’s pets
- Providing advice when miscellaneous issues arise
The WM Law Small estate wrap up plan will assist you with all of these issues for a flat fee of $1,000. Payment plans are often available.