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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of estate planning?

Estate planning is a set of tools and strategies that work together to ensure you can protect your finances while accessing end-of-life care and controlling asset distribution after you pass away. Without proper estate plans, your assets will be distributed by a judge following intestacy laws rather than your personal wishes. This situation can also lead to unnecessary headaches and potential disputes among family members. For these reasons, everyone should have estate plans, regardless of age or financial situation.

What is the difference between a living trust and a testamentary trust?

A living trust is created and funded while the grantor (the trust owner) is still alive. The grantor may fund it with various assets and add beneficiary designations for each one. If the living trust is revocable, it can be changed or canceled at any time, but it becomes irrevocable after the trustor dies. On the other hand, a testamentary trust is created through the grantor’s will after that individual passes away. It can be used to distribute part or all of the estate and is often used to hold and transfer life insurance proceeds. These are just some of the various types of trusts available, and an attorney can help you select the right type for your estate plans.

How does an advanced healthcare directive work?

An advanced healthcare directive is a set of legal documents that allows you to record your medical wishes and treatment preferences if you are unconscious or mentally incapacitated to speak for yourself and make medical care decisions. It usually contains a living will, a healthcare proxy designation, and it may also contain a power of attorney document. Your living will serves as a written record of your medical care preferences, and your healthcare proxy gives a person of your choice the authority to speak on your behalf and make medical decisions for you while you are incapacitated.

What does an Elder Law attorney do?

Elder law is a practice area that focuses on the unique legal and financial issues affecting seniors, including estate planning, Medicaid planning, and long-term care planning. An elder law attorney can also assist the families of seniors with a variety of issues, such as seeking guardianship of their aging loved one due to dementia or another debilitating condition, helping the family secure nursing home care, and even assisting them if they suspect their older relative is a victim of elder abuse. Elder law attorneys focus on the needs of clients rather than on a specific legal practice area and thus are well-versed in a variety of areas ranging from estate planning to personal injury and beyond.

What damages can I recover in a personal injury claim?

If you are a personal injury victim, you may be entitled to receiving compensation for economic and non-economic damages, as well as punitive damages when applicable. Economic damages include expenses and financial losses resulting from your accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages include the more subjective aspects of a personal injury claim, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. In some cases where the defendant has acted with gross negligence, the court may also award the plaintiff punitive damages to punish the at-fault party for their particularly egregious conduct.

How long do you have to file a personal injury claim in Missouri?

In Missouri, personal injury claims are subject to a legal deadline called a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets a hard time limit for a claimant to seek compensation for personal injury-related losses. In Missouri, the statute of limitation for personal injury claims is five years from when the accident occurred or from when the injury was discovered.
However, certain claims, such as those involving government entities or medical malpractice, may have shorter timeframes. Taking action promptly after an accident can increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation, so it is best not to wait five years and contact an attorney immediately.

What happens if I am partially at fault for my injuries?

If you have been told you are partially responsible for your accident, you may still be able to receive compensation as long as you are not 100% at fault. Missouri follows the pure comparative negligence rule, which means you may still seek compensation even if you have partially contributed to your accident, but the percentage of fault assigned to you ultimately affects how much money you may receive. For example, if you are 30% at fault, your compensation may be reduced by 30%. An attorney can help you minimize your percentage of liability to maximize your compensation.

How do I dispute a traffic ticket in Missouri?

If you have received a ticket for a traffic violation, you must take action within thirty days of receiving the ticket. Each traffic ticket you plead guilty to may add points to your driving record. Too many points in a given period may mean your license could be suspended. Therefore, you can dispute your ticket by requesting a contested hearing. You should also consider reaching out to a traffic ticket attorney. Be prepared to present any evidence that supports your case, such as witness statements, photographs, or other documents that show that you were not at fault for the traffic violation.