Estate Planning Blog

Why Do Women Need to Take the Lead in Estate Planning?

Why do women need to take the lead in estate planning?

Women need to lead because it is typically the woman that sits in front of the undertaker given that – statistically speaking — her husband will die first. Thus, she has to deal with the immediate arrangements involving the disposition of her husband’s body and the settlement of his estate. These tasks can be overwhelming – especially when accompanied by the grief process – unless she has taken an active role in the couple’s estate and funeral planning.

Importantly, a woman needs a solid handle on what happens to her financially upon her husband’s death.  What assets remain for her?  How liquid (i.e. accessible) are those assets? What will happen to her standard of living? Should she keep the house or sell it?

The woman’s standard of living likely will be reduced after the death of her spouse because the total value of Social Security payments received by the household will decrease after the husband’s death.

Knowledge empowers. Women typically fare better when they have the control that comes from (1) understanding their personal financial picture; and (2) having an updated estate plan in place.

Given her statistically longer life, a woman likely will need money to cover more retirement years than her husband will need. And, her longer life may mean that her medical needs are greater, too. A Minnesota durable power of attorney will be particularly beneficial for handling certain financial matters as the woman ages and perhaps develops dementia. A Minnesota health care directive will provide assurance that the agents that she names will follow her wishes related to her body when she can no longer communicate for herself.

Done correctly, the estate planning process involves a review of the couple’s assets and includes recommendations as to who should be the owner of each asset, and how beneficiary designations might best be handled. The discussion with an estate planning attorney will also help her understand when probate is and isn’t required in Minnesota.

A Revocable Living Trust may enhance her control. A Revocable Living Trust provides a mechanism for management of the woman’s assets during any periods of her incapacity or periods when she prefers to relinquish control to her successor trustee. A Revocable Living Trust may also make settlement of her estate simpler. Typically, there’s no court involvement with Revocable Living Trusts – before or after death. Probate involves the court.

If a  is involved, and there are children from first marriages, estate planning is especially important to protect some assets for the children of the first of the couple to die.

The best time to prepare an estate plan is now. When you get your affairs in order you can confidently go on with the rest of your life!

©2019 Wittenburg Law Office, PLLC. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This Blog is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you live. Wittenburg Law does not expressly or implicitly warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the Blog’s contents. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading this Blog. If you are interested in Wittenburg Law’s representation of you, you must contact Wittenburg Law for a determination of whether your matter is one for which Wittenburg Law is willing and able to accept representation of you.

Bonnie Wittenburg, Wittenburg Law Office, PLLC, 601 Carlson Parkway, Suite 1050, Minnetonka, MN 55305 952-649-9771    bonnie@bwittenburglaw.com   www.bwittenburglaw.com

 

A Revocable Living Trust Still Requires a Will

Minnesotans still need a Will even if they have a Revocable Living Trust.

The Will that accompanies a Revocable Living Trust is different, however, than a Will that is the sole testamentary document.

Typically, people think of Wills as saying “who gets what” of your assets.  When a Minnesotan has a Revocable Living Trust, it’s a chief task of the trust document to say “who gets what”. If more than one document described the distribution of all of the deceased’s assets, there would be confusion.

So what is the need for a Will when there’s a Revocable Living Trust? » Read more..

The Power Behind a Power of Attorney

A Minnesota Power of Attorney document is used to give another adult the power to handle your financial matters.

The key is to select carefully the person that you name as your agent – known as your “attorney-in-fact”. Despite the label “attorney-in-fact”, the person that you appoint cannot act as your attorney.  Nor does the person that you name need to be a lawyer. » Read more..

Keeping the Family Peace with Your Estate Plan

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How can you increase the odds that your children won’t fight over the family assets after your death?

Children don’t always fight after their parents’ deaths. However, family fights happen more often than you might think.

Below are some steps that you can take to help reduce the odds of a fight breaking out. » Read more..

Should You Have a Will or a Trust?

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Whether a Will or a Revocable Living Trust is best for you depends on your goals and situation.

An estate planning lawyer can help you review the pros and cons of each based on your needs and desires.

A Revocable Living Trust is more flexible than a Will, and may help married persons avoid Minnesota’s estate tax. However, a Revocable Living Trust is more expensive to set up, and requires you to proactively assign various assets to your Trust for your Trust to work properly. » Read more..

Second Marriage? No Will?

Minnesotans in a 2nd marriage that fail to sign a Will before death may fall victim to unintended consequences.

Minnesota law applies when there is no Will, and those laws may not be what the parties to the 2nd marriage expected.

For example, spouses often expect to inherit all of their deceased spouse’s assets even when spouses are in a 2nd marriage. That expectation is wrong if the deceased has children from a 1st marriage and the deceased did not create a Will giving everything to the surviving spouse. When there is no Will, but there are children from the deceased’s 1st marriage, Minnesota law states that the surviving spouse is to receive “the first $225,000” plus ½ of the rest. The other assets go to the deceased’s descendants. » Read more..

A Will is Not Enough

Surprise! Beneficiary designations on assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts trump anything that you state in your Will or Trust.

Thus, your estate plan is not finished just because you’ve signed a Will or Trust. You also must review your beneficiary designations to ensure that they are in sync with your overall estate plan wishes.

Several types of assets allow beneficiary designations, such as life insurance, retirement plans, health savings accounts, annuities, 529 accounts, Payable on Death (P.O.D.) accounts and Transfer on Death (T.O.D.) accounts. » Read more..

Must I Have a Will?

Skipping the writing of a Will may harmfully disrupt family dynamics, may result in distributions that you didn’t want or intend, and may increase the costs of settling your estate.

A Will, properly executed under Minnesota law, is your legal instruction to your survivors as to how you want your estate divvied up after you die.

If you don’t have a Will, Minnesota law has a plan for you, which you may not like. » Read more..

Must I Give My Kids an Inheritance?

Will your kids think less of you if they don’t inherit anything from you at your death? Will you feel guilty if you don’t – or can’t — provide them with an inheritance?

Inheritance of any size is a windfall for the children who receive it given that they most likely didn’t do anything to earn it.

Some wealthy parents don’t want their children to inherit more than a fraction of their estate out of concern that their children may not use it wisely or may develop bad habits.

Other parents may be concerned that health care costs, and the living expenses associated with living longer than past generations, may make it unlikely that the parents will have any money left to give to their children. » Read more..

Pros & Cons of Minnesota’s Transfer-on-Death Deed

Minnesota’s Transfer-on-Death Deed (TODD) has been a popular estate planning tool since 2008, when a law enabling the technique became effective.

The homeowner uses a TODD to designate who should inherit a specific parcel of real estate after the homeowner’s death. The TODD must be recorded with the county recorder (or registrar of titles, as the case may be) in the Minnesota county where the property is located prior to the death of the homeowner. » Read more..