Estate Planning Blog

Revocable Living Trusts v. Testamentary Trusts

Trust Doc 2Which is better – a Revocable Living Trust or a Testamentary Trust? What’s the difference between them?

As the names imply, a Revocable Living Trust exists during your lifetime whereas a Testamentary Trust becomes effective only upon your death. » Read more..

Amending a Will v. Amending a Trust

Will docProcedures for making changes to your Minnesota Will differ from making changes to your Revocable Trust.

Even the terms describing amendments to these documents are different. An amendment to your Will is called a “Codicil” whereas an amendment to your Revocable Trust is called an “Amendment”. » Read more..

Avoiding Probate with Minnesota’s Transfer on Death Deed

iStock_000004014203SmallMinnesota’s Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) for real estate is a popular way for Minnesota families to try to avoid probate upon the death of the property owner.

Probate in Minnesota isn’t the onerous process that it is in some states, but probate takes time and costs money regardless. Thus, many Minnesotans try to avoid probate.

Probate is triggered in Minnesota when the deceased: (1) owns real estate in his or her name alone, or (2) owns $75,000 or more in probate assets in his or her name alone. This blog focuses solely on the first trigger – ownership of real estate. » Read more..

Is an Estate Plan Necessary?

estate-planThe sentiment – “I don’t care what happens after I die because, after all, I’ll be gone.” – typically doesn’t work well in reality.

Creating a well-thought-out estate plan is really your last gift to your family. Without such a plan, your relatives may be cursing you for the unnecessary mess that you left behind rather than having sufficient time to grieve your death and navigate ways to cope without you. » Read more..

Estate Planning for Minnesota Newlyweds

Estate PlanLegal paperwork for the newly married shouldn’t stop with the Minnesota marriage license.

An important wedding gift to give yourselves, as newlyweds, is peace of mind that you’ve left your new spouse in the best situation possible should tragedy occur to one of you.

What steps foster that peace of mind? » Read more..

What Does “Per Stirpes” Mean?

Estate Plan“Right of representation” and “per stirpes” are two ways of describing the same method for dividing the assets of the deceased, but what do the phrases mean?

A second way of dividing a deceased person’s assets in Minnesota is “per capita at each generation”.

Translation?  » Read more..

Naming Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Headline of Life Insurance for background

Chances are that you no longer remember whom you’ve named as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. You should find out. Why? The beneficiaries that you listed with your life insurance company trump any beneficiary designations that you may have made via your Minnesota Will.

It’s also important that your loved ones know that you have a life insurance policy and where to find it.  Otherwise, the life insurance money may go unclaimed! » Read more..

Estate Planning: Gifts & Gift Taxes

Cash pileJust as gifts come in all shapes and sizes, so do the tax rules and regulations regarding the gifts of your assets that you make during your lifetime or at death. Generally speaking, the donor of the gift is responsible for paying any gift taxes owed.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) first states that any gift is a taxable gift, but then applies exceptions to that general rule. » Read more..

Creating a Valid Minnesota Will

Will docA Will must meet certain criteria to be considered a valid Will in Minnesota.

To make a Will, you must be at least 18 years of age, and must be “of sound mind”.

The Will must be in writing, and must be signed by you, by another person at your direction, or by your conservator pursuant to a court order. Two other individuals must sign your Will as witnesses. A beneficiary of the Will may sign as a witness. However, Minnesota lawyers often prefer that neutral parties — rather than beneficiaries — serve as witnesses so as to better avoid a potential future accusation that the maker of the Will was pressured by the beneficiary to sign the Will.    » Read more..

Your Will Doesn’t Cover All Your Assets

Will docThe danger of thinking that your Will covers the transfer of all your assets at your death is that the distribution of your assets may not end up as you intended.

Your Minnesota Will covers only what is known as your “probate assets”. If your Will provides that each of your 3 children is to inherit one-third of your estate, each child will inherit one-third of your “probate assets” only.

Stated another way, the wording of your Will has no impact on assets that are considered “non-probate assets”, and your non-probate assets may be a significant portion of your estate. » Read more..