For many people, the idea of an inheritance may be restricted to television and movie depictions of a grieving family sitting anxiously in an attorney’s office awaiting the reading of the will. However, parents in Missouri who want to ensure that their children receive an inheritance should consider other options for leaving assets to their children as well.
Two methods for passing assets to an individual’s children do not involve a will. For life insurance policies and certain retirement plans, assets can be transferred to a child by simply designating the child as the beneficiary of the asset. Another estate planning tool is a trust. A trust is created when an individual transfers ownership of some or all of his or her assets to it, naming a trustee who is then charged with managing and paying out the assets in the trust in accordance with the legal document.
A will may be the most frequently mentioned estate planning device. Such a document specifies who is to receive what assets of the testator upon his or her death. An executor will be designated in the will and will be responsible for the management of the estate until the probate process is complete and all assets are distributed.
If an individual dies without having done any estate planning, then the distribution of his or her assets will be governed by the laws of intestacy, which vary from state to state and can be very complex, depending upon the group of surviving relatives. Those who want to be sure that the distribution of property is in accordance with their wishes may want to consult an attorney with experience in estate planning in order to determine the types of documents that will best suit their needs.