Todd Rasmussen, Attorney & CPA
Todd draws upon years of experience as in-house counsel, business attorney and Certified Public Accountant to help clients with their estate planning and business needs. He delivers prompt and practical assistance to help clients achieve their estate planning and business objectives. His practice is limited to the areas of Estate Planning and Business Law.
Todd received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Kansas State University in 1998 and worked for two years as a Certified Public Accountant with Ernst & Young, LLP. He received his Juris Doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law in 2003.
Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Accredited Attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs
Estate Planning Kansas City appreciates the need for clients to receive effective and efficient advice and service. We strive to develop plans that are easy to understand while efficiently accomplishing the goals you want to achieve. We try to keep things simple and transparent so you understand your plan.
We help young families looking to ensure their children are protected should something happen. Often times we are able to accomplish this goal with a simple, yet effective plan. Most of our young families come in after having a child and just need a basic plan to name a guardian and set goals for their children. It is a pretty easy process. Often times, the hardest part is making the call to set up a consultation.
We also like to help older families find ways to transition their life long endeavor and efforts to their children. In this sense, we feel it is important to develop a plan designed to minimize in-fighting or frustration among your kids. While many people may have a view that estate planning is complex or only for the wealthy, it isn't. Anyone who wants to protect and support their family members should have some form of plan. We can help you figure out which plan works best for you.
Small businesses and family enterprises require a unique legal advisor able to offer creative solutions to help the business and its owners achieve their goals while keeping in mind the estate planning goals of the owners. Whether you are just starting a new business, looking to expand, or seeking a path to transition out of your business, we can help.
Most people know about wills and their basic purpose – to ensure that one’s hard earned assets go to the right beneficiaries when an individual passes away. Wills are used to distribute your property, name a guardian for minor children and name an executor of your estate.
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is expensive, time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
If you have a child, or other loved one, who has some physical or mental disability, or a chronic or acquired illness, a special needs trust may be a critical piece of your estate plan. Such a trust can protect your loved one's inheritance and allow your loved one to receive benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid or other government benefits. The assets in the trust can then provide supplemental care above and beyond that which the government will provide.
Probate and Trust Administration
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. We will work with you through each step that must be taken as soon as possible after your loved one dies, as well as those steps that will be dealt with in the future.
A living trust allows your property to be transferred to your beneficiaries, quickly and privately, with little to no court intervention, maximizing the amount your loved ones end up with. In a living trust, you name yourself as trustee, which makes you the person in charge of your property. As trustee, you retain total control of the property you transfer into the trust. You can amend your trust at any time and can even revoke it entirely.
Your family-owned business is not just one of your most significant assets, it is also your legacy. You’ve worked very hard over your lifetime to build your family-owned enterprise. However, there comes a time to focus your priorities on ensuring a smooth transition that preserves your legacy – and your investment – for generations to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a will. Why would I want a living trust?
Contrary to what you’ve probably heard, a will may not be the best plan for you and your family. That’s primarily because a will does not avoid probate when you die. A will must be validated by the probate court before it can be enforced.
Also, because a will can only go into effect after you die, it provides no project if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. So the court could easily take control of your assets before you die – a concern of millions of older Americans and their families.
Fortunately, there is a simple and proved alternative to a will – the revocable living trust. It avoids probate and lets you keep control of your assets while you are living – even if you become incapacitated – and after you die.
How does a living trust avoid probate and prevent court control of assets at incapacity?
When you set up a living trust, you transfer assets from your name to the name of your trust, which you control – such as from “Bob and Sue Smith, husband and wife” to “Bob and Sue Smith, trustees under trust dated mo/day/yr”.
Legally you no longer own anything; everything now belongs to your trust. So there is nothing for the courts to control when you die or become incapacitated. The concept is simple, but this is what keeps you and your family out of the courts.
Do I lose control of the assets in my trusts?
Absolutely not. You keep full control. As trustee of your trust, you can do anything you could do before – buy and sell assets, change or even cancel your trust. That’s why it’s called a revocable living trust. You even file the same tax returns. Nothing changes but the names on the titles.
If something happens to me, who has control?
If you and your spouse are co-trustees, either can act and have instant control if one becomes incapacitated or dies. If something happens to both of you, or if you are not the only trustee, the successor trustee you personally selected will step in. If a corporate trustee is already your trustee or co-trustee, they will continue to manage your trust for you.
What’s so bad about probate?
It can be expensive. Legal fees, executor fees and other costs must be paid before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs. If you own property in other states, your family could face multiple probates, each one according to the laws in the state. These costs can vary widely; it would be a good idea to find out what they are now.
It takes time, usually nine months to two years, but often longer. During part of this time, assets are usually frozen so an accurate inventory can be taken. Nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or executor approval. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance, which may be denied.
Your family has no privacy. Probate is a public process, so any “interested party” can see what you owned, whom you owed, who will receive your assets and when they will receive them. The process “invites” disgruntled heirs to contest your will and can expose your family to unscrupulous solicitors.
Your family has no control. The court process determines how much it will cost, how long will it take, and what information is made public.
How much does probate cost? How long does it take?
The cost and duration of probate can vary substantially depending on a number of factors such as the value and complexity of the estate, the existence of a Will and the location of real property owned by the estate. Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over the debts of the estate can also add significant cost and delay. Common expenses of an estate include executors fees, attorneys fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds. These typically add up to 2% to 7% of the total estate value. Most estates are settled though probate in about 9 to 18 months, assuming there is no litigation involved.
Does probate administer all assets of the decedent?
Probate is primarily a process through which title is transferred from the name of the deceased to the names of the beneficiaries.
Certain types of assets are what is called “non-probate assets” do not go through probate. These include:
Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and do not go through probate.
Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
Life insurance policies.
Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.