Friday, April 28, 2017

Estate Planning Prep: 3 Factors To Consider

If you've kept up with our blog, you know that we spend a great deal of time talking about the importance of organizing your affairs so that all will transition smoothly to your heirs after you pass. Without a proper estate plan in order, your assets may be tied up in probate for months - or potentially even years - before they can be distributed to your heirs.

At O'Donnell Law Center, a significant portion of our practice is dedicated to helping our clients with their estate planning needs. If you are preparing to begin the estate planning process, our Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney is here to help. Here are a few factors we advise you to consider before preparing your estate plan.

1. Who Shall Receive Guardianship Of Your Children?

If you have children, this is the most important - and possibly the most challenging - decision you will have to make during the estate planning process. It is essential that you nominate someone to care of your children in the event that something unexpected should happen to you.

While there may be someone in your life who could be an obvious choice, you may also find that the decision can be far from easy. We have written an entire blog post on nominating a guardian for your children (you can view it here). For the purposes of this blog, however, we shall simply encourage you to think through the decision carefully so that you can select the individual you believe will be best able to care for your children's needs.

2. How Complicated Will Your Estate Plan Be?

The more assets you possess and the greater their financial value, the more complex your estate plan may be. Your estate planning needs may be further complicated if you have been married multiple times, own a business, or have children from other relationships.

If your assets and affairs are relatively straightforward, a simple will, coupled with non-probate transfers, may be all you need. If your assets have significant value or if your familial needs are complicated, however, you may need to work with an attorney to build an estate plan that will best serve your specific situation.

3. Whom Do You Wish To Inherit Your Assets?

This is an obvious component of the estate planning process, but one that deserves careful consideration. You may choose anyone you wish to inherit your assets - children, grandchildren, siblings, friends, parents, charity etc. You may choose one person to inherit your home, another person to inherit your business, another person to inherit your investment accounts, and so on. Many people choose to divide their assets so that they are distributed equally to their surviving heirs. Depending on the age of their children, some people choose to establish revocable living trusts that allow them to dictate at what age their children have access to the assets.

Ultimately, it is entirely up to you how you wish to pass your assets to your surviving family and friends. We encourage you to begin this decision-making process prior to working with an attorney to build an estate plan, however; finalizing these decisions ahead of time will greatly streamline the planning process.

Contact O'Donnell Law Center To Build Your Estate Plan

We encourage you to work with an attorney to build an estate plan that will best meet your needs. Even if you anticipate your estate plan to be simple, it may still be wise to consult with an attorney. Although do-it-yourself programs are available online, these basic programs cannot possibly account for the unique nuances of your specific needs.  Working with an attorney will be the best way to ensure that your estate plan meets your needs and wishes.

If you are looking for a Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney, we hope you will consider scheduling a consultation with Deirdre O'Donnell of O'Donnell Law Center. Since estate planning is a prominent focus within our practice, we have a great deal of experience with a variety of estate planning structures. We would be honored to put our knowledge and expertise to work for you.

For more information about how we may be able to assist you, visit us at or call 573-552-0317 to book your private consultation.

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When To Consider Updating Your Estate Plan

Life is a long, winding journey. There are several stops you must make along the way and several tasks that will require attention at some point. Some things cannot be addressed only once - they must be readdressed periodically to ensure that they are still relevant and up-to-date. Estate planning is one such task.

An effective estate plan is designed to meet your specific needs by reflecting your current position in life. Since your position will likely change at least once (and potentially several times) as you age, it is important to consider updating your estate plan to reflect your current position and needs. O'Donnell Law Center is here to help you keep your estate plan up-to-date by discussing a few situations when it may be wise to update your estate plan.

Getting Married Or Divorced

Marriage and/or divorce are major milestones in one's life. Whether you are creating a marital union or dissolving one, your life will be drastically different once the process is complete. Spouses often have automatic rights to inherit each other's assets if the other passes and, unless otherwise specified, are typically given the right to make decisions on the other's behalf should the other become incapacitated. When you get married or divorced, it is wise to consult with a Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan reflects your current needs as a newly wedded or recently single individual.

Having Children

If you did not have children at the time that you initially built your estate plan, we strongly encourage you to consider updating your plan once you have had children. A key component of estate planning is to ensure that your children will be provided for no matter what happens to you. If they are under the age of 18, your estate plan should nominate someone to care for your children in your place in the event that something happens to you. Once your children are legal adults, your estate plan can protect them by dictating which of your assets they should inherit and at what age they should gain access to those assets.

Starting A Business

As a new business owner, you will have a myriad of details demanding your attention. Entrepreneurs must not only be well-versed in their chosen industry; they must also have at least a basic understanding of what it takes to operate a business. As the owner, one of your responsibilities will be to determine what should happen to your business in the event that you are no longer able to take care of it. Whether that means passing it to an heir, selling it, or dissolving it, your estate plan should provide at least a basic explanation of how you would like your company's affairs to be handled after you pass.

Experiencing A Change In Financial Situation

A well-prepared estate plan should be designed to meet your specific situation. In order to meet your exact needs and avoid excessive taxation, a skilled estate planning attorney will use different tools and strategies depending on your financial situation. If you experience a change in your financial position, you'll want to talk to your attorney to see if your estate plan needs to be constructed differently based on your new financial needs. Examples of changes in your financial situation may include (but is not limited to):
  • Accepting a job with a significantly higher salary
  • Inheriting a significant sum of money
  • Purchasing or inheriting property or items of value

Contact O'Donnell Law Center For Help Updating Your Estate Plan

If you think you may be in a position to update your estate plan, call O'Donnell Law Center at 573-552-0317. Our experienced Missouri estate planning attorney has helped hundreds of clients design customized estate plans to match each individual client's needs. We would be happy to help you build or update your estate plan so that it accurately reflects your specific situation.

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Friday, April 14, 2017

Estate Planning Made Easy: 3 Simple Steps

Because it requires you to think critically about end-of-life decisions, estate planning often seems like a daunting prospect. None of us want to think about our eventual deaths. Unfortunately, none of us will live forever - it is important that we organize our affairs and build estate plans to ensure that our wishes will be met once we are no longer present.

At our Lake of the Ozarks law firm, we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to estate planning. In order to easily guide our clients through their end-of-life decisions, we have condensed the process into three simple but comprehensive steps. Here is a quick overview of how we handle estate planning at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Step 1:  Initial Meeting

The first step is to meet with you to discuss your end-of-life wishes. We will ask various questions and guide you through certain topics to help you decide how and to whom you would like your assets to be distributed upon your passing. Some of the topics you will need to consider may include:
  • Who do you wish to care for your minor children?
  • If you have a business, will it be sold, closed, or passed directly to an heir? If passed directly, who shall receive it?
  • Who shall inherit your house, car, boat, etc?
  • Do you wish for your children to receive access to your estate immediately, or would you prefer they wait until they reach a certain age?
  • Do you wish to be an organ donor?
  • Who would you like to make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated?

While this list provides a few examples of the types of topics we will need to discuss, it is by no means comprehensive. Our Lake of the Ozarks estate planning attorney will ask different questions designed to help you evaluate your specific situation. Because of the vast amount of information that must be covered in this meeting, step one is often the most time-intensive.

Step 2:  Review Period

After the initial conversation, our team will put together the various documents required to complete your customized estate plan. We will then enter into a review period, where we finalize documents and carefully answer any questions you may have. We will dedicate significant time to making sure you fully understand what each of your documents say so that you can be comfortable with the contents of each.

Step 3:  Signing Ceremony

Finally, we will conduct a signing ceremony to complete the process. The signing ceremony takes place in a private environment with two witnesses and a notary. When you leave our center, you will have your original documents in hand. For your ease of access, we offer to send you electronic copies as well.

It's That Simple

Estate planning may seem like an intimidating prospect, but by following these three steps, the process can actually become quite simple. 

We understand that discussing end-of-life decisions can be a delicate and sensitive matter. Our goal is to provide a safe, private environment that is conducive to having these sometimes challenging conversations. 

If traveling to our law firm in Osage Beach MO is difficult, we may be able to come to you. We may also be able to have some of our conversations over the phone so that only one in-person meeting is required.

If you would like to learn more about our estate planning services at the Lake of the Ozarks, visit our website at or call us at 573-552-0317 to schedule your private consultation. 

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3

Osage Beach, MO  65065

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Type Of Business Entity Is Right For You? 4 Questions To Ask Yourself

As an aspiring entrepreneur, hundreds of decisions lie ahead of you. Where should your business be located? What type of loan will you need to secure in order to obtain proper funding? Will you need to hire employees? If so, how/when will you conduct the hiring process? How do you want to setup your office space? The list goes on and on.

One of the questions you will need to answer relatively early on in the process is how you want to structure your business. There are multiple business formats to choose from - limited liability company, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and more.

Our Lake of the Ozarks business attorney is here to help you determine which business entity may be best for your specific situation. Asking yourself these questions can get you started in the right direction.

Question #1: What Resources Am I Able To Dedicate To Setup And Ongoing Administration Costs?
Depending on the type of business entity you select, you may be faced with rather steep setup costs as well as expensive ongoing administration costs. Corporations, for example, generally require that fairly extensive records be kept of all meetings, agendas, and other issues. Unless you are able to delegate this task to a trusted employee, keeping up with all the required record-keeping may take up a significant chunk of your valuable time.

Question #2: Am I Able To Be Financially Responsible For My Business?
Certain types of business structures (such as a sole proprietorship and a partnership) do not provide any insulation between the corporate finances and the owners' personal finances. In other words, the business owner(s) may be held personally responsible for the company's obligations. If your company will be dealing with expensive equipment or high-dollar contracts, for instance, you may want to pursue a different business format (such as corporation or a limited liability company) that can provide you and your personal assets with more protection.

Question #3: How Do I Want To Handle My Company's (And My Personal) Taxes?
The type of business structure you select will impact the type of taxation your company and your own personal earnings are subjected to. Generally, businesses and owners may be taxed in one of three ways: the business' profits may be taxed, the owners' income may be taxed, or both these profits may be taxed. We recommend that you consult with an accountant to learn more about how each type of business format is taxed and how it may affect you. 

Question #4: What Will Be My Company's Future Needs?
In the early stages, it is easy to become solely focused on the tasks required to get your business up and running. In order to position your business for long-term success, however, it is important that you spend time envisioning where your business is headed. Will you want to bring additional owners into your company as it grows? If someone wants to sell their interest in the company, how do you want that process be handled? Your business structure will impact how matters such as these will be addressed, so it's important to give that some thought in the beginning.

Schedule A Consultation With O'Donnell Law Center For Assistance
If you are in the early planning stages of your business, we hope you'll consider scheduling a consultation with our business attorney in Osage Beach MO. Our experienced attorney can help you address your concerns and point you in the right direction as you get your business up and running. Building an alliance with a local business attorney in the beginning may also prove to be hugely helpful down the road as you face inevitable challenges and future questions. 

Contact O'Donnell Law Center to begin your journey today!

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065