Archive for February 20, 2013

When is Probate Required in Minnesota?

At death, your assets are figuratively divided into two piles – probate assets and non-probate assets – but why should you care?

The division has nothing to do with whether or not you owe federal or Minnesota estate taxes. For that purpose, all of your assets are counted, including the value of any life insurance benefits that are paid out to your beneficiaries upon your death.

However, the categorization into probate and non-probate assets matters when it comes to determining whether or not the aid of the probate court is needed to transfer title to the new owners or whether the transfer can occur without the court’s involvement. » Read more..

A Will May Help Your Children Avoid Sandbox Fights

When the second parent dies and there is no Will, supposedly mature adult children may find themselves back in the sandbox fighting like five-year-olds. A Will cannot ensure that such behavior won’t happen, but it may help prevent such ugliness.

Of course, children don’t always fight over the family assets. However, lawyers handling probate (estate administration) matters see fights more often than you might think.

How does a Will help in Minnesota?  First, it is your last conversation with your child. You, the parent, are still in charge since you are talking to your children through your Will. » Read more..

Who Inherits Your Unused Cemetery Lot?

Minnesota statutes address who inherits any unused cemetery lots, and the answer may somewhat surprise you.

If your Will doesn’t specifically mention the cemetery lot and doesn’t name just one person to inherit it, the Will has no impact on what happens to the cemetery lot. Note that both conditions  — specific mention and one person named — must be met.

If the conditions are not met, Minnesota law responds as if you had no Will. » Read more..

Why Not Write Your Own Obituary?

Writing your own obituary has several advantages, doesn’t it?

By writing your own obituary, you spare your grieving family the burden of trying to write one within the few days between your death and funeral or memorial service. And, you also influence what you want people to remember about you.

Obituaries are perhaps the one newspaper item that tends to be kept through the ages. Obituaries are sometimes pasted inside the cover of the family Bible, or kept in a family scrapbook. They are a much beloved resource for persons doing genealogy research. » Read more..

The Minnesota Funeral is Over, Now What?

When the funeral is over, search for the Will of your loved one, secure his or her possessions and contact a lawyer.

If there is a Will, your loved one has nominated someone in his or her Will to be the personal representative for purposes of settling the estate. However, no one becomes the personal representative until the Minnesota Probate Court accepts the nomination.

If there is no Will, Minnesota law sets out procedures for naming someone as a personal representative. Again, court approval is necessary.

Did your loved one reside in their home alone at the time of their death? If so, secure your loved one’s home and possessions so that nothing is removed until it is legally appropriate to do so. Park or store the car in a secure area. Take steps to make the house appear “lived in” to help deter theft. Remove any snow from the driveway and keep the lawn mowed. » Read more..