Our Estate Planning FAQs

Every family we meet has specific and unique questions about creating an estate plan. We have collected some of the most common questions we get and have answered them in detail to help you get a basic understanding of what and estate plan consists of. We invite you to read our FAQs and then give us a call.

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  • Does a Will avoid Probate in Missouri?

    Answer:  No.  A will is guarnteed to go through probate.  Your Executor is required to file your Will with the Probate Court within 1 year of your death.  You can avoid Probate in Missouri by using a Revocable Trust.  

  • In Missouri, If I Become Disabled, Who Takes Care of My Finances?

    In Missouri, if you become disabled and lose the capacity to deal with your finances yourself, someone will have to establish a conservatorship over your finances. Doing so is expensive. If you have prepared a revocable trust or a durable power of attorney, a conservatorship is not needed and the person you have designated will handle your finances.

    Can’t my spouse just take over my financial matters? Your spouse is able to manage joint accounts only. He or she cannot sign on your behalf for financial accounts under your name alone unless you have prepared a revocable trust or a durable power of attorney naming your spouse as the person who will handle your personal financial matters.

  • In Missouri, What is the Five-Year "Look Back" Period for Medicaid?

    When applying for Medicaid in Missouri, the state will “look back” to see if any gifts have been made in the past five years.  Missouri will not just let you give away your property or your money to qualify for Medicaid.  Any gifts or transfers for less than fair market value that are made during the “5 year look back” period may cause a delay in Medicaid eligibility.


  • If my spouse becomes disabled, will I automatically be able to make financial and medical decisions for him or her?

    No, not unless your spouse has named you to be his/her attorney-in-fact under a Durable Power of Attorney and his/her health care agent under a Medical Directive.

    Absent these two documents being in place (and presented to a medical provider), you will need to go to the Probate Court and be appointed as your spouse’s guardian and conservator.

  • What is a "no contest" clause?

    A "no contest" clause states that if a beneficiary under your will or trust challenges his or her inheritance, he or she will receive nothing.

    Remember, however, in Missouri, you cannot disinherit your spouse.

  • Is a "no contest" clause in my will or trust valid in Missouri?

    Yes. In Missouri, a "no contest" clause is enforceable.

  • In Missouri, can I disinherit my spouse?

    No. In Missouri, married persons may not completely disinherit their surviving spouse, unless the spouse agrees by executing a waiver of their rights to inherit in the form of a prenuptial agreement or other legally enforceable contract.

    Depending on your situation, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive up to a one-half or one-third of the deceased spouse’s estate.

  • Does my Revocable Trust protect my assets from nursing home expenses in Missouri?

    No. That is a very common misconception. Your Revocable Trust may avoid probate of your assets upon your death, however, your Revocable Trust in Missouri (and most states) will not protect your assets from nursing home expenses.

    The assets you place in your Revocable Trust are considered owned by you and must be spent down before you qualify for long-term care in a nursing home.

    The solution?  Call our office to develop a strategy to protect your assets from long-term care expenses.

  • Is a parent liable for his minor child's car accident in Missouri?

    If a parent knows that their minor child has a propensity to act recklessly or carelessly when driving, then the parent is expected to take reasonable steps to prevent that child from causing foreseeable harm to others.

    For example, in Missouri, if a parent knows his or her child is an inattentive driver who constantly talks or texts while driving and despite that, the parent allows the child to continue to drive the family car, and the parent makes no effort to restrict the child's use of his or her phone, then a parent would be on notice of the child’s dangerous propensities. If the child ends up causing an accident while talking or texting, the parent could be considered negligent for failing to prevent foreseeable harm.

  • Am I responsible for my parent's hospital or nursing home bills in Missouri?

    There are 29 states that have “filial support laws” which provide that children can be legally responsible for their parents’ long-term care costs. However, Missouri currently does not have filial support laws.

    You could become contractually liable by signing agreements with the nursing home or hospital. Be careful what you sign!