A Will is one of the most basic elements of estate planning. In a word, yes—you do indeed need a Will. Good estate planning often involves much more than that (think powers of attorney, beneficiary designations, perhaps a living trust) but a Will is nearly always a basic and central part of an effective estate plan. A Will directs where your property goes when you die—while also including administrative designations, procedural directions and other important legal provisions. Additionally, for a parent of a minor child, a Will typically includes a nomination of someone to serve as a successor guardian. Of course, every situation is different and every person is different—and every estate plan is different. However, in nearly every instance, you do need a Will.
Every state in the country (including Missouri) allows a business owner to create a limited liability company (LLC). So what’s the point? Why operate your business as an LLC? An LLC, along with other forms of business entities, provide two key benefits. First, an LLC (when properly organized and properly maintained and operated) provides liability protection to its owners. In other words, liabilities of the company remain only liabilities of the company, while the owner(s) is not financially at risk beyond their investment/ownership in the company itself. There are important limitations to this, but it is a tremendous benefit and protection to a business owner. Second, an LLC allows for what is called “pass through taxation.” This means that the company itself is not liable for income taxes. Rather, income tax liability simply passes through to the LLC owners. This stands in contrast to some types of corporations that require a sort of ‘double taxation’ where both the business itself and the owners are taxed. Every business is different, but for many business owners, an LLC is an valuable tool—for the smallest one-person business to large international companies.