Archive for Wills

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..

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Second marriages – particularly when each spouse has kids from a prior marriage – are fraught with complications that heighten the need for careful estate planning.

When there’s been only one marriage, and when all of the children are the children of both parents, a typical scenario in Minnesota is as follows: The parent who dies first transfers all of his or her assets to the surviving parent. When the surviving parent also dies, their children share any assets that remain.

However, parents in 2nd marriages have worries regarding the transfer of their wealth that differ from 1st marriage situations. » Read more..

Will My Step-Children Inherit?

If you want your step-children to inherit, you need to specify that wish in your Minnesota Will or Revocable Living Trust.

If you don’t do so, then only your blood relatives or adopted children will inherit.

Without a Will (and assuming that you have no surviving spouse), your children inherit in equal shares under Minnesota law. No provision is provided for step-children. » Read more..

When Is Probate Preferred?

Typically, people want to avoid probate, but there are times when probate is the better path.

(Probate is a legal process in which a court formally appoints a personal representative to administer the deceased’s estate. Probate may occur whether or not the deceased had a Will. When the deceased’s Will names someone to be the personal representative, the selection is considered a “nomination” – not an appointment. It is the court that “appoints” and provides the official documentation that enables the nominated personal representative to act.)

People often prefer to avoid probate because the probate process is public, takes time, costs money, and involves some hassle.

But sometimes probate may be the preferred — or required — path because the court can resolve issues, thereby reducing pressure on the personal representative. Some examples are: » Read more..

Benefits of Estate Planning

Let’s admit it: We care about how we are remembered after death, and also about what happens to our lifetime accumulation of financial and other assets.

Thus, it’s foolhardy to think that we can keep putting off estate planning on the premise that death is still a long ways away, or that everything will somehow work out (miraculously) according to our wishes if we do nothing. » Read more..

Estate Planning is About Life as much as Death

legacy - isolated word in vintage letterpress wood type

Thoughtful estate planning may help you build the size of your estate, rather than just focusing on what happens to your money and other possessions after you die.

A proper estate plan typically includes typical documents such as a Will and possibly a Trust, but there’s more. » Read more..

Writing Your Own Obituary

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

The obituary of Bill Maurer of Des Moines, Iowa captures the reader right from the beginning with this introduction: “Bill Maurer’s goal was to live to be 113. He didn’t make it.” » Read more..