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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on March 22, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Woman peeking through blinds. A trustee is responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Unless the beneficiary is also a trustee, he or she will not have direct access to information regarding the investments, debts, liabilities, expenses, receipts and other financial arrangements of the trust. Without a mechanism for learning this information, the beneficiary might worry that assets will run out, the trustee might misuse funds, or another problem will occur. Therefore, Missouri law, and the law of those states that have adopted similar provisions from the Uniform Trust Code (UTC), provides that a trustee must provide specific information and an annual report to certain beneficiaries so their interests may be protected.

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By Garrett Reuter, Jr., Keith Grissom on September 27, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Toy house sitting on top of a calculator with a pencil and papers next to it.In many cases, determining the beneficiaries of your estate plan is simple. If your spouse survives you, your assets go to your spouse. If your spouse doesn’t survive you, your assets are split equally among your children. But choosing who will ultimately receive your assets and in what proportions is only part of the process. Another part of it is deciding how the beneficiaries receive those assets.

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By Elizabeth Pack on July 20, 2017 at 9:25 AM

$100 bills with wedding ring on topMany people may think they have the option to leave their spouse nothing when they die, but almost every state has what is commonly called an “elective share” statute. These statutes work to protect a surviving spouse from being cut out of a deceased spouse’s estate plan, permitting the disinherited spouse to elect to take a portion of the estate. This is especially helpful, for example, in a situation in which someone has decided to leave nothing to his or her spouse and instead leave everything to another romantic partner.

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By Betty Schaefer on February 28, 2017 at 1:24 PM

Image of father and soon holding piggy bankIn most states, including Missouri and Illinois, 18 is the legal age of majority. At that age, a person becomes an adult in the eyes of the law and gains all of the rights that go along with adulthood. Any person under 18 is a minor and, generally, does not have the legal capacity (or right) to control or manage his or her assets, including an inheritance.

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By Elizabeth Pack on February 14, 2017 at 2:43 PM

Hands making the shape of a heart over the EarthAn often-overlooked estate planning trap involves including individuals who are not U.S. citizens as part of an estate plan.

If someone who is not a U.S. citizen or resident is given control over a trust, either as a trustee or a beneficiary, then the trust will be treated as a foreign trust and will be subject to additional income taxes.

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By Elizabeth Pack on December 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM

One hand giving a red heart to anotherRetirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k) and 403(b) plans and other qualified plans or profit-sharing plan accounts may provide an opportunity for charitable giving by offering a variety of tax benefits, depending upon the structure.

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By Betty Schaefer on November 2, 2016 at 9:54 AM

Wife and husband signing divorce papersAfter months of emotional and financial turmoil, a finalized divorce can be a welcome end to a stressful time. Now what? Before you move on with your life, make sure you truly sever all financial ties to your former spouse by updating, or even creating, your estate plan. Failure to do so can lead to unintended beneficiaries such as your former spouse claiming your assets at your death, resulting in costly litigation that can drag on for years after you die.

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