estate planning
We all want to leave our mark on this world. The legacy you establish is as unique as you. Whether you choose to contribute to a church, charity or cause that is close to your heart, or you leave your assets to loved ones, estate planning allows you to put your wishes in writing so that they are followed.

Estate planning offers tremendous peace of mind for citizens of any age. Nobody can tell the future and even though you may not need them for a number of years, estate planning documents ensure your financial affairs, your health care instructions and the distribution of your assets will be taken care of according to your wishes. Many people hesitate to start estate planning early in life, feeling that it is too early, daunting, or expensive. We emphasize that it is never too early to start planning, especially when minor children are involved. Failing to plan will likely be far more expensive during emergency situations or at death, when your family is left to pick up the pieces.

It's normal to feel apprehensive about estate planning – especially if you've never done it before. Although thinking about weighty issues brings us face­to­face with mortality, the vast majority of our clients leave our office feeling like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders. They feel good about their decisions and confident about the future

At Hook McKinley, LLC, we will work with you to create an estate plan that addresses your assets, family relationships, and future goals. This very personal process allows you to pass your assets to your children, your favorite charity, or other beneficiaries as seamlessly as possible. Your estate planning should make sense to you and accomplish your goals. Estate planning encompasses much more than just a last will and testament ­ it is a process, and there is no one­ size­fits­all solution. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to consider multiple documents to ensure your wishes are carried out should you become ill, disabled, or pass away. We simplify the process by explaining the options to you and offering advice about what may best suit your needs. This enables you to make informed decisions about how to achieve your goals.

We ask our clients several questions to illustrate the importance of estate planning, wherever they are in life:
- How do they want their property distributed after their lifetime?
- Who do you want to benefit from your life’s work, and in what proportion(s)?
- Who should manage your estate, especially if there are minor children or grandchildren involved?

Your situation is unique and requires a comprehensive and professional evaluation. Diane and Jennifer will work to ensure your concerns are addressed and your goals are met by getting to know you and your family. Through the use of several tools, we provide our clients with complete and expert estate plans which preserve your vision wishes while addressing your concerns and providing peace of mind. It is important to prepare for life’s possibilities and eventualities.

Estate planning gives you the power to make decisions while you are still able to do so. Hook McKinley uses several estate planning strategies to assure our clients’ peace of mind. We offer estate planning services such as:

Power of Attorney for Finances
Power of Attorney for Healthcare (including a Living Will)
Last Will and Testament
Revocable Living Trust
Special Needs Trust
Beneficiary Deed
Business entity formation and succession planning

It's never too soon ­ or too late ­ to start planning for the future. Hook McKinley, LLC is committed to caring for the estate planning needs of individuals and families throughout the Northwest Missouri area.
probate and trust
Without an experienced attorney by your side, the probate and estate administration process can be a confusing, lengthy, and expensive tangled web of legal issues. The emotions of losing a loved one are enough without you also having to be burdened with complex questions such as:

- How do I track down my loved one’s assets?
- What do I do with the will?
- How do I know/determine who the heirs are?
- Who are the necessary parties to my loved one’s will?
- How do I notify all the necessary parties?
- What if my loved one had debt?
- What do I do with taxes?
- What are my duties as an executor or trustee?
- Am I personally responsible for my loved one’s debts?
- Is probate necessary?

We provide probate and trust administration services in both Missouri and Kansas, and also guide out­of­state executors and trustees through the process. When you or your family are coping with the loss of a loved one, these added responsibilities can seem burdensome and unmanageable. Our caring, professional approach allows us to assist you and your family every step of the way and provide the ideal level of service. With years of experience, we know how to open an estate, inventory and assemble the assets, manage the claims of creditors, prepare the proper notifications, and handle all other duties of an executor or personal representative, including resolving family disputes over division of property. Our goal is to get the assets into the hands of the rightful heirs and beneficiaries as quickly as possible.

We represent beneficiaries, trustees, or executors with diligence, talent and zeal to affect the best outcomes for our clients. The services we offer include challenging a will or trust, interpretation of wills and trusts, breach of fiduciary duties and removal actions of executors or trustees, and disputes regarding the distribution of probate or trust assets. Let us help you navigate through the probate process in order to minimize the stress and expense of probate administration while preserving the assets and legacies so those are passed on to future generations according to your loved one’s wishes. Sometimes just talking with an attorney will lift a weight off your shoulders and make this stressful time more manageable.
real estate
We will assist you with the transfer, sale, purchase, and development of residential and commercial real property. We also handle issues such as probate avoidance and/or real estate succession planning. We work closely with Realtors and title companies to ensure your real estate is properly titled and that your interest is protected. Our clients trust us with all of their real estate and title issues, and we work for a quick and equitable resolution.
business planning
Business owners must navigate numerous legal details in the planning, formation, and operation of a business. We will assist you with all of your business and corporate needs, from annual meeting minutes to compliance issues, to a purchase or sale of the business or its assets. We represent all types of businesses from small to multi- million dollar corporations, giving each our personal attention. We are experienced in forming for­profit corporations, not­for­profit corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships, and can handle any related legal issues such as contract negotiations, franchise agreements, business contract formation and litigation, and business succession planning.
civil litigation
Although we hope that litigation does not become necessary, sometimes it becomes required. If so, we will represent you diligently, and either work with you to find the best solution to resolve the issue, or work with you until a judgment is obtained. We are experienced in handling issues regarding contract disputes and/or breach of contract cases, landlord tenant issues, probate and trust administration, and real estate boundary disputes.
landlord tenant
Disputes between landlords and tenants are common. We focus on the representation of landlords, ranging from preparing a well­drafted lease agreement to preparing petitions for past rent due, possession, or both rent and possession. We will also assist in defending claims made by the tenant, such as habitability or failure to make repairs. If a tenant fails to vacate after we obtain a judgment, we will assist in evicting them, or if they fail to pay the judgment, we will assist in collecting the judgment. Sometimes just a firmly worded letter from an experienced lawyer can make a huge difference. We have a comprehensive understanding of the laws and regulations governing actions involving landlord and tenant rights. We will handle your case personally to get the best resolution possible.
va planning
Wartime Veterans and their surviving spouses may be entitled to receive certain benefits to help offset the costs of medical care. These benefits can be used to pay for care received in a long term care facility or at home, even if a family member is providing the care and assistance in your home. For many, receiving the benefit could mean the difference between staying in their homes, or having to go to a facility. We assist our clients in obtaining the benefits to which they are entitled, keeping in mind possible future care needs, and overall estate planning wishes. Let us help you evaluate your eligibility for VA benefits and assist in legally positioning your assets in order to maximize eligibility both now and in the future.

Many Veterans and Surviving Spouses of Veterans are unaware of potential benefits they may be entitled to receive. Pension benefits may be available to military service members who served ninety days total active duty with at least one day of active duty during a designated period or war, have qualifying income and asset levels, are age 65 and older, and who require assistance with one or more activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, or using the bathroom. Depending on the level of need, the 2016 pension benefit can be as much as $2,120 monthly for a veteran and spouse, and up to $1,149 for the widow of a veteran.

Eligibility for Veteran’s Benefits can be an important part of your overall estate plan. The eligibility rules for Veteran’s Benefits are different from the eligibility rules for other programs that help pay for long term care expenses, such as Medicaid. It is important to have a carefully coordinated plan to ensure that planning for the receipt of one benefit does not jeopardize your eligibility for another benefit. Let us assist you in striking the right balance of programs to assist with the particular needs of your family.
medicaid planning
Due to better living practices and medical advances, Americans are living longer, meaning many will need long term care at some point in their lives. The cost of in­home care or a long term skilled nursing facility can be upwards of $5,000 per month, depending on the level of care needed, leaving many people scrambling to figure out how to pay for their care, while still being able to pass their assets to their children or other beneficiaries. Meeting with a qualified elder law attorney can help alleviate some of these concerns and a plan can be implemented to protect as many of your hard­earned assets as possible, while still planning for any potential long term care needs.

At Hook McKinley, we work closely with our clients and their families to safeguard their future while navigating the complicated, confusing, and ever­changing Medicaid laws and regulations. You have worked hard over your lifetime to accumulate your assets, and it is our job to help you secure your future and protect those assets. Many Northwest Missourians and Northeast Kansans do not realize the importance of having a good lawyer on their side. Here are some of the ways we can use elder law to benefit you:

- Asset protection
- Medicaid Planning
- Protect assets from a nursing home
- Qualify for Missouri and Kansas Medicaid benefits
- Provide referrals for nursing home or assisted living placement
- Review a proposed nursing home contract
- Plan for Veterans Benefits planning
- Plan for disability

Through Medicaid planning, estate planning, and a combination of several methods, we can show you how to save thousands of dollars in long term care costs. The longer you wait to discuss planning, the fewer options you may have. Even if you or a loved one is already in a nursing home or assisted living, we may be able to find ways to help you save your hard­earned assets. The cost of nursing home care can be as much as $5,000 a month or more, meaning that proper planning is critical.

Hook McKinley will help you make informed decisions by providing you with facts regarding Medicaid and other senior issues, while dispelling common myths and misinformation. The Medicaid regulations can be intimidating ­ let us show you how to use Missouri and Kansas Medicaid benefits to your advantage. There is no reason to exhaust a lifetime of savings to get nursing home care.

Our knowledge of the Medicaid rules can be used to your advantage. If you or a loved one has made gifts or transfers of property, you may not have to wait five years before qualifying for Medicaid benefits, and you likely will not have to give up your home. There are many options available under Missouri and Kansas law, even if you or your loved one is already in a nursing home or assisted living facility. We provide caring and personal service to help you understand and use the law for your benefit. Your interests are our first concern, and we will guide you with patience and compassion, as we protect you and your family as if it were our own.

We offer a wide variety of services that all have one thing in common: we represent seniors. Whether helping individuals plan for retirement and long­term care, or children caring for their aged parent, we offer services that address long­term care needs, including nursing home care, and planning for incapacity. We can assist you with:

- Wills
- Revocable living trusts
- Durable powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions
- Advanced directives (A.K.A. "Living Wills")
- Retirement and Long­Term Care Planning
- Planning for Medicaid Eligibility
- Accessing veterans benefits for nursing home care
- Legal guardianship of a loved one who lacks capacity to make decisions for their own care
- Conservatorships to manage the financial affairs of a loved one who lacks capacity to make their own financial decisions
Revocable Living Trust
Trusts are often used to accomplish goals that cannot be achieved through a will alone. For example, a trust might: Eliminate the need for probate Reduce estate taxes Preserve assets for minors or other beneficiaries until they reach a certain age Provide for educational, health, or other needs of beneficiaries Contribute to charitable or religious organizations

Many people think that if you create a trust, you give up control of your assets. While this is true for some types of trusts, we usually recommend that our clients remain in full control and ownership of their assets until their death. A revocable living trust allows you to change the terms of the trust throughout your life as family situations and other considerations change. In other words, you remain in complete control.

There are many types of trusts – revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, educational trusts, and even pet trusts, to name a few. We can match you with the type of trust that best fits your needs and customize it accordingly.
Power of Attorney for Finances
Powers of attorney are perhaps the most versatile among the many estate planning tools available. They are also among the most misunderstood. These documents can be very flexible ­ you can craft a power of attorney to accomplish almost any goal.

The basic purpose of a power of attorney is simple: it grants another person the legal authority to act on your behalf. This document is a key piece in even the most basic estate plan. Without a power of attorney, if you become incapacitated (for example, due to an accident or mental condition like Alzheimer's), your loved ones will not have the ability to make decisions on your behalf, including the ability to pay your bills, obtain insurance information, or manage your real estate or investments. If you do not have a power of attorney, it will be necessary for your family to go to court to be able to make those decisions.

When you sign a financial power of attorney, it does not mean that you are giving up control of your decisions ­ it simply means that you are giving someone else (or multiple people) the ability to make your decisions or help ensure your assets are being properly managed. As long as you are able to make your own decisions, you are still in complete control. Powers of attorney for finances can be effective immediately upon signing, or they can be effective only upon incapacitation (called "springing" powers). It is possible for you to sign a power of attorney now, but the powers given to your agent would lie dormant until you become incapacitated.

When choosing your agent under a power of attorney, it is important to remember that you do not have to name only one person. You can name two or more people and also decide whether or not they must agree and act jointly, or whether they can act independently of each other on their own. You can also name successor or back up agents in the event your first named agent is not able to act on your behalf. You can name as many successor agents as you want, and you can also name multiple successor agents, same as with your first named agent.

Power of attorney documents can vary widely. We can help you tailor a power of attorney to meet your specific needs and address your concerns. We can also help you use and interpret existing powers of attorney so you know your rights and/or the rights of your loved ones.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A Power of Attorney for Healthcare is essential for every person over the age of 18 years old. Once you legally become an adult, your family loses the authority to make medical decisions for you, leaving them with few options if you are unable to communicate with medical professionals and make your own medical decisions. A healthcare power of attorney allows your agent to talk with your doctors, obtain your medical records, request a second opinion, and ultimately make your medical decisions for you.

Powers of Attorney for Healthcare are not effective until the principal (you...the person giving the authority) is incapacitated. Therefore, it is typical to sign a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and give copies to family members to use in case of an emergency. Many times our clients choose to give a copy to their healthcare provider so it is in their file in the event it is needed.

Just like with financial powers of attorney, you can name one person as your agent to make your medical decisions, or you can name multiple people, as well as backup agents. There is no requirement that you name a family member to make your medical decisions. In fact, you should name the person or persons who will follow your medical wishes and act in your best interest.

A Living Will is different from a healthcare power of attorney. While the power of attorney names who will make your medical decisions, the living will sets forth your wishes regarding end of life decisions. A living will only applies if you (the principal) is persistently unconscious or there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from a seriously incapacitating or terminal illness or condition. The Living Will only applies at end of life ­ it does not apply in emergency situations, nor does it apply when there is an expectation of recovery.

It is the goal of medical professionals to prolong life as long as possible, without regard to your condition or expectation of recovery. While some people prefer to be kept alive through the use of machines and other medical technology, some people would rather pass away more naturally, and allow nature to take its course. Either way, this is your decision ­ not the decision of a medical professional. It is important that your living will reflect your wishes and decisions so that your family knows what you want should that situation become a reality.
Last Will and Testament
Many people believe the only estate planning document they need is a will, and with a will, their estate planning is complete. What they do not realize is that after they die, their will must go through probate, an expensive and time

consuming process for the loved ones they’ve left behind. A will should be included in any estate plan, however it is only one piece of the larger puzzle. A will should outline how you want your property distributed to your loved ones, charities, or religious organizations upon your passing. The will should clearly state who (or what entity) is to receive your property and in what proportions.

The more clearly you write your will and outline your wishes regarding your property, the better off your beneficiaries will be when distributing your property. A last will and testament is a versatile document, much like a trust. A will can be used to establish a trust at your death (called a testamentary trust) to hold assets until a beneficiary or beneficiaries reach a certain age. A will also allows you to choose who you would want to be guardian and conservator of minor children or family members with special needs. Like trusts, wills should be tailored to meet your specific goals.

When deciding what documents you use as part of your estate plan, it is important to keep in mind that since a will must go through probate, this means that the court will oversee the administration of your estate. This means that there will be filing fees and attorney’s fees no only initially, but also during the administration of the will. This is especially important to consider if your beneficiaries are minors.

Always remember, when deciding how your assets should be distributed among your beneficiaries, what is fair is not always equal. Many people desire to distribute their estate equally between their beneficiaries, however some people wish to compensate one beneficiary for services or assistance received prior to death, or to equalize previous assistance given to one beneficiary that another did not receive. However you desire your property to be distributed after your death, just remember that it is your decision ­ you worked for your assets, and you have the right to pass them on as you see fit.