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Avoiding the probate headache

Posted on January 25, 2018

Untangling an estate plan can prove to be a challenging task for any Missouri resident. Maximizing value of an estate, arranging plans for minor children and minimizing taxes are all factors that call for special attention and clarity. Unbeknownst to many, going to probate is not always a must. Instead, those looking to arrange estate plans can establish a trust that prevents this extra hassle. There are other essentials to be aware of when beginning this process, but an experienced professional can ensure that it is done the right way.

Sometimes, looking at the basics can help clarify what once seemed an overwhelming task. The Missouri Bar provides a resource that explains wills and estate planning in the state, stating that when it is time to consider a trust, the process involved generally consists of three parties:

  • The settlor
  • The trustee
  • The beneficiary

When it comes to the type of trust, a “living” trust takes place during the settlor’s lifetime, and a “revocable” trust is established when a settlor has legal rights to make changes to or revoke the trust during his or her lifetime. Creating a revocable living trust involves a “trust agreement,” or a legal document signed by the settlor and trustee.

Findlaw coincides with many experts in sharing that a trust can help prevent a probate headache. By transferring title property to a trust, the trustee (who is also commonly the grantor of the living trust) can maintain control over his or her property until death. After this process, those named in the trust may receive the property through the successor trustee. There are other alternatives to probate — including naming a beneficiary or establishing joint tenancy — but Findlaw considers a revocable living trust as one of the most appealing ways to avoid probate.