If you’re considering estate planning options, a Missouri living trust can offer you flexibility and control while providing peace of mind. A revocable living trust lets you keep your assets while they remain in trust.
Living Trusts in Missouri
A living trust in Missouri, also called an inter vivos trust, is set up by the settlor, the person who owns the assets going into trust. When you create a living trust, you need to choose a trustee who will manage the assets in the trust for your benefit while you are alive. You can select anyone for the trustee, but the most common thing to do is name yourself, so you remain in complete control. Most people try to place as many assets into the trust as possible to reap the most benefits. Some assets, such as retirement accounts cannot be transferred. You can alter, change, or eliminate the revocable living trust at any point during your life and move assets in and out of it at will. This is different from an irrevocable trust which becomes permanent upon signing.
If you select yourself as trustee, you will also need to name a successor trustee who will step in after your death. At this point, he or she will continue to manage the trust and will distribute the assets to your beneficiaries according to the terms of your trust.
One of the primary benefits of a trust is that it does not have to go through probate and allows the distributions under the trust to happen immediately upon your death if that is your wish. Probate is a court procedure in which a will is proven and then put into effect. It can take many months and involves the cost of an attorney, executor, and court fees. Missouri does not use the Uniform Probate Code, so its probate process is not simplified. However, if your estate is worth less than $40,000 it will qualify for a small estate procedure which is faster and less expensive than regular probate and is less costly than a trust. A living trust is also useful when you own property in more than one state, allowing you to avoid multiple probate procedures.
Do I Need a Living Trust in Missouri?
A living trust in Missouri offers you and your family privacy since the trust never becomes public record and does not require any court proceeding. The assets you place in the trust, the names of your beneficiaries, and the terms of the distribution remain out of the public eye. No one need know your family’s private business. Additionally, trusts are harder to contest, meaning that your wishes are protected.
Creating a living trust in Missouri allows you to maintain maximum control over your assets both during your lifetime and after you die. During your life, you use and control your assets with little change. You live in your home, spend your money, and can sell or give away assets whenever you wish. After your death, the trustee continues to manage your assets and protect the legacy you have created. The trustee distributes your assets according to the terms you have set up in your trust. You can distribute your assets to your beneficiaries at the occasions and dates that you choose and until those milestones, the trust remains intact. If you use a will to pass your assets, they are distributed once probate concludes, and you have no control from that point forward.
A revocable living trust protects you should you become mentally incapacitated. All of your assets are already controlled, owned, and managed by the trust and a conservatorship proceeding is likely unnecessary. Your financial life is protected by the trust.
Living Trusts and Estate Taxes in Missouri
Estate taxes cannot be avoided through the use of a revocable living trust in most situations. There is no estate tax in Missouri, but the federal government applies an estate tax to estates valued over $5 million. Estate tax can be avoided with the use of carefully crafted specialized trusts known as QTIP, AB, or marital trusts, which pass assets from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse. Living trusts provide no protection from Medicaid spend down and do not conceal assets from creditors.
How to Create a Living Trust in Missouri
To create a living trust in Missouri, you put the terms of the trust into a trust agreement which you then sign in front of a notary public. The final step is to fund the trust, transfer ownership of assets into the name of the trust. A revocable living trust can offer you flexibility, control, and privacy. Its benefits may offer important protections for you.
If you're ready to create a living trust in Missouri, LegalZoom can help. Start by filling out a simple questionnaire. We will review your answers and mail your complete living trust package to you.