Serving Clients Since 1979
Kansas City Estate Planning Lawyers
Estate planning is often an area that people put off confronting or never tackle at all. While it can be uncomfortable to contemplate your own passing, if you own anything at all, a plan is necessary if you want to ensure that your assets go to the people you choose. Whether to protect your business, your investments, or what you own for your family’s future, estate plans are as individual as you are. They can and should reflect the unique circumstances of your situation, taking into account the overall tax consequences and administration expenses involved.
The experience level of Krigel and Krigel’s estate planning team enables us to offer the high-quality service you need in a cost-effective manner. Our estate planning attorneys understand the various forms of ownership, classes of assets, legal documentation, and numerous related tax issues essential to developing a vital and comprehensive estate plan. After reviewing your assets and your goals, our estate planning attorneys will guide you through the document-drafting and review process, and help you understand how to title and transfer your assets into any newly-established trusts.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of arranging for the management and disposal of a person's estate during their lifetime and after their death. An estate includes all of a person's assets, such as property, bank accounts, investments, insurance policies, and personal belongings.
The primary goals of estate planning are to ensure that a person's wishes regarding their estate are carried out, to minimize taxes and other costs associated with transferring assets to heirs, and to provide for the management of one's affairs in the event of incapacity.
Key components of estate planning may include:
- Will: A legal document that specifies how a person's assets should be distributed after their death. It can also designate guardians for minor children and specify other wishes, such as funeral arrangements.
- Trusts: Legal arrangements that allow a person (the trustor) to transfer assets to a trustee who manages the assets on behalf of beneficiaries according to the terms specified in the trust document. Trusts can be used to manage assets during the trustor's lifetime and after their death, and they can provide various benefits such as avoiding probate and providing for minor children or individuals with special needs.
- Power of Attorney: A legal document that grants another person the authority to act on behalf of the person creating the power of attorney (the principal) in financial or legal matters if the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Healthcare Directive (Living Will): A document that specifies a person's wishes regarding medical treatment in the event that they are unable to communicate their preferences due to incapacitation. This can include decisions about life support, organ donation, and other medical interventions.
- Beneficiary Designations: In some cases, assets such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and bank accounts allow for the designation of beneficiaries who will receive the assets directly upon the owner's death. Ensuring that these designations are up to date is an important aspect of estate planning.
Estate planning is important for individuals of all ages and income levels, as it allows for the orderly transfer of assets and can help avoid disputes among heirs. It is typically recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and legally sound.
Talk to a Kansas City estate planning attorney about the specifics of your situation in a confidential consultation. Contact Krigel & Krigel online or at (816) 578-0077 to book your appointment today.
Our Estate Planning Services
Estate planning uses various legal instruments designed to accomplish certain tasks.
These can include:
- Wills. These form the foundation of your plan and, in some cases, may be all that you need. These documents outline your wishes related to the distribution of your property and belongings and can name a guardian for your minor children. Without a will, your wishes will not be known which can lead to the time, expense, and stress of contested issues in probate.
- Trusts. These are separate legal entities into which you pass your assets to be held and managed by a trustee for the benefit of your heirs and beneficiaries. They can be revocable or irrevocable and created for specific purposes. They are powerful tools for managing your assets, both while you are alive and after you are gone, ensuring that your heirs will be able to avoid the probate process.
- Powers of Attorney. These documents allow you to designate someone to act on your behalf for financial purposes. They may be a current Power of Attorney or a “springing” Power of Attorney that does not go into effect unless you become incapacitated.
- Health Care Directives. These documents outline your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures in the event you are in a vegetative state or in a terminal condition that offers no hope of significant recovery; the document also names the agent to act for you in making decisions consistent with your directive while you are incapacitated.
At Krigel & Krigel, we can more thoroughly educate you on the various tools that can be used to ensure that your unique needs and concerns are met. Our team is also here to help you maintain your plan when circumstances change through divorce, remarriage, adoption, and other transitions. By keeping your estate plan current, you will have peace of mind knowing that your family, beneficiaries, and estate issues are covered throughout your life.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Estate planning has many benefits, including providing for your family, saving them from difficult decisions and potential legal disputes, ensuring that your assets, belongings, and/or business are transferred to those whom you have chosen, minimizing taxes and expenses, planning for incapacity, supporting favorite charities and causes, and more.
The lack of a comprehensive estate plan can create expensive and stressful legal issues for you and your family. Should you find yourself in such a situation, perhaps facing probate court, our attorneys can also help with experienced guidance and representation.
For more information on estate planning, check out our blog post: