As personal injury attorneys, we often see families after a tragedy occurs such as the unexpected death of a loved one. We believe it’s important to plan ahead to make sure your family and property are taken care of in the event of an accident or untimely death. In Missouri, there are some cost-effective ways to protect your property that you may not know about. One such tool is the Missouri Beneficiary Deed. While this instrument may be an excellent estate planning option for many, it’s important that you consult a probate or estate planning attorney to learn if a beneficiary deed is right for your estate planning process. Our office will happily refer you to a probate attorney near you who can handle those needs for you and your family.
What is a Missouri Beneficiary Deed?
However, there are simple and cost-effective steps that almost anyone who owns real property, such as a house, farm or land, can use as an estate planning tool called a beneficiary deed. A Missouri beneficiary deed (also called a Missouri transfer-on-death deed or a Missouri TOD deed) is a legal document that will transfer the real property, i.e. house, farm, and land of the decedent upon their death. During their lifetime, the owner of the property retains full control of their property and can sell or change the beneficiary designation. However, at their death, the owner will pass the property to the beneficiary automatically thus avoiding the costly process of probate.
A Missouri beneficiary deed operates under the Non-probate Transfers Law of Missouri. Under the statute, a property owner may transfer their property upon their death to a beneficiary, while still retaining the right to use the property during their lifetime. Under the Missouri statute, a beneficiary of a Missouri beneficiary deed must survive the owner by 120 hours after their death. If a beneficiary does pass away within 120 hours after the decedent, the property will transfer to their descendants (children or grandchildren) automatically, unless the deed specifies otherwise.
Benefits of a Missouri Beneficiary Deed
There are many benefits that make it a popular tool within a person’s estate plan. The following are some of the most significant reasons to consider executing a beneficiary deed.
- No Probate – Any property that is transferred by way of a beneficiary deed automatically avoids probate. This is likely the most advantageous reason to include this in your estate plan. The entire probate process avoided.
- Control Retained During Life – As a property owner who has executed a Missouri beneficiary deed, you have rights over the property during your lifetime. You may sell your real estate or property, and change the beneficiary decision at any time.
- Tax and Legal Advantages – The Missouri beneficiary deed will never become legally available to a beneficiary until the death of the owner, therefore the property will still benefit from local or state tax laws during the life of the owner.
- Federal Tax Advantages – Under federal tax law, the property involved in a Missouri beneficiary deed is not considered a gift, as it is not gifted until the owner has died. Therefore, the property will remain as part of the owner’s estate.
- Legal Fee Savings – Living trusts and Last Will and Testaments can cost a great deal to have a lawyer draft and execute. The funding and administration of a living trust also can cost a substantial amount of money. A Missouri beneficiary deed avoids all of these legal fees and administrative expenses.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Kansas City
If you have suffered a death as a result of an accident or injury, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Griggs Injury Law at (816) 474-0202. If you are considering a Missouri beneficiary deed as part of your estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you determine what estate planning tools are right for your financial situation.