If there are assets in your Missouri estate, (i.e. your name), when you pass away, they are generally subject to probate. This means that they cannot be transferred to beneficiaries until probated and a judge gives your estate representative permission to do so. However, it may be possible to bypass probate by putting your property into a living trust.
A trust doesn’t terminate upon your death
The reason why your estate must typically be probated is that a decedent obviously cannot transfer ownership of their assets after death. However, a trust can exist for as long as you would like it to after your death. It is important to note that the terms of such a document cannot change after you pass. At this point, it effectively becomes an irrevocable trust managed by whoever you have appointed to serve as trustee.
Trust assets are held outside of your estate
As the ownership of trust assets are held outside of your estate, they will be outside of the purview of a probate judge. This means that you can opt to have those assets distributed to beneficiaries as the trust directs. Alternatively, you can stipulate that distributions are to be made at a later date after certain conditions have been met.
Assets can be distributed before your death
It’s important to note that trust assets can be even distributed prior to your death. For instance, it could declare that your children are to take possession of and/or ownership of your home if you become incapacitated. It could also stipulate that a percentage of your property could be transferred to persons other than family and in installments if you so choose. An estate planning attorney may be able to help you structure a trust to meet your needs while still alive.