Archive for December, 2014

Proper Estate Planning May Save Your Loved Ones from the Hassles of Missouri Probate Court

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Life is full of hassles. Some can be avoided, while others are just a necessary evil of life. Probate is often viewed as one such evil, since the entire process can be long, pricey, and more than a little confusing. For those not familiar, probate is the legal process that transfers the real estate and personal property of the deceased, otherwise known as the “probate estate”, to the deceased’s family members and other chosen individuals or “heirs”. While probate is common, is not one of life’s certainties. There are ways that an individual can set up his or her estate, so as to avoid the hassles of probate for his or her loved ones. The following are some of the most commonly used tools to avoid probate in Missouri:

Joint Ownership with the right of survivorship: Property that is held in joint ownership with the designation of “right of survivorship” will naturally avoid probate. When one owner to the joint property dies, the other owner simply becomes the sole owner. The two forms of joint ownership in Missouri are “joint tenancy” and “tenants by the entirety”. The latter being only available to married couples.

“Pay-on-death” bank accounts: In Missouri, an owner of a bank account or certificate of deposit (cd) can designate a “pay-on-death” beneficiary. This designation does not give the beneficiary any rights to the account, nor does it guarantee the beneficiary any funds. Rather, when the owner dies, the beneficiary can request a turnover of the money in the account, if any, directly from the bank without have to go through probate.

“Transfer-on-death” designations: “Transfer-on-death” (tod) designations are used in Missouri for several purposes. One of the most common uses is to transfer real estate. This “beneficiary deed” allows the owner of the property to record a deed now, but the transfer will not take place until the owner dies. Missouri also allows the owner of a vehicle to register his or her vehicle with a tod designation. Owners of bonds and other securities can also use a tod form to avoid probate.

Living trusts: In Missouri, assets held in a living trust are not subject to probate proceedings. In a living trust the owner places his or her property in a trust and designates him or herself as the trustee of the trust. The owner must also designate a “successor /trustee” who will take over the trust when the trustee/owner dies.

Please be aware, that the laws regarding probate and other estate planning issues are state specific. This means that what may work to avoid probate in one state may not in another state. Therefore, before making any decisions, it is best to sit down with an experienced probate attorney who can explain the options afforded in the state where you reside. Even if you are unable to completely avoid probate, your estate may be eligible for Missouri’s “small estate” probate procedures, which are much more simplistic.

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be difficult to endure. Having to deal with the probate process at the same time, can make a difficult situation trying. However, you may be able to save your family the hassle of probate with proper estate planning. A Kansas City Probate Attorney can review your estate with you and determine ways to avoid probate. The experienced Kansas City Probate Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients, in both Kansas and Missouri with estate planning. Our compassionate team of attorneys are skilled at helping clients avoid the tangles of probate. Please contact our office today at (816) 472-4673 to schedule a consultation.

Kansas City Products Liability Attorney Asks: Is a Recalled Product Lurking Underneath Your Christmas Tree?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Christmas shopping. Some people love it while others loathe it. One reason, people dislike Christmas shopping is because it can be quite nerve-wracking. The hunt to find the right gift for the right person can be time consuming and maddening. But in the end, one way or another, the shopping must come to a close on December 24th. Then it is time for the Christmas presents with their foil paper, ribbons and bows, to be stacked below the Christmas tree, until it is time for the unwrapping to begin.

Regardless of whether or not you liked Christmas shopping, you may still be a little nervous about whether the recipient will like the gift you purchased. What most people do not think about while the recipient of their gift begins to unwrap the package, is whether the recipient could be hurt or seriously injured by the gift. This year, in December alone, there were more than twenty recalled products according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It is possible that one of the recalled products is “lurking” underneath your Christmas tree. The following items were recently recalled:

  • Keurig MINI Plus Brewing System: Keurig has recalled more than 6.5 million hot beverage brewing systems with model number K10. The recall occurred after the company received 200 reports from consumers of hot water spraying during the brewing process. Close to 100 of the reports involved burn-related injuries. The affected brewing systems have identification numbers starting with “31”. The brewers were sold in the U.S. both online and in-stores from 2009 to 2014. If you are the owner of a recalled system, you can call the company to arrange for a no cost repair.
  • Essenza Tower Tealight Warmer by Olympic Mountain Products: The tealight warmers are being recalled because they can burn with an erratic or high flame which can cause burn injuries or property damage. The defective warmers were sold exclusively at Costco locations in the United States and Canada. Consumers who have purchased a defective warmer can seek a refund by contacting the company via telephone or online.
  • Bean Bag Chairs by Comfort Research: The chairs are being recalled because the zippers on the bags can be opened by a child and there is the possibility that a child could crawl inside of the bag and either become entrapped, choke or suffocate on the bag’s foam beads. The recalled chairs were sold between January 2010 and October 2013 at Meijer, Kroger and Burlington Coat Factory. The chairs were also sold online at Target, Groupon, Kohl’s, Walmart, Toys R Us, Bean Bag Company, Wayfair and Amazon. Consumers who have purchased the recalled chair should remove the item from children immediately and contact Comfort Research for instructions as to how to disable the defective zipper.
  •  Hoodie Recall: Three manufacturers of children’s hoodies have recalled jackets after learning that the items pose a strangulation hazard to children. If you have purchased a Kids GAA Fleece Hoodie (James Trading Group), Ski-Doo or Can-Am Kid’s Hoodie (BRP), or Pink Pony Hoodie (Kiddie Korral), you should contact the manufacturer for a refund.

For a complete list of all recalled items you can visit the CPSC website. If you have been the giver or receiver of a recalled product, it important to take immediate action to avoid potential injury.

If you were injured by a defective product, it is important that you seek the advice of a seasoned Kansas City Products Liability Attorney. Only a seasoned Kansas City Products Liability Attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the proper compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless injury victims, in both Kansas and Missouri. Our aggressive and experienced team of products liability attorneys will make sure that justice is served. Contact Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. today at (816) 472-4673 to schedule a consultation with one of our Products Liability Attorneys.