Tag Archive for assets

Do You Need a Will?

Do you need a Will if you live in Minnesota?

The answer is “yes” if you want to control who receives your probate assets after you die, or if you have minor children. A Will is the only way that parents can hand-pick a guardian to take care of their children under the age of 18 if both parents die.

Why did the previous paragraph contain the qualifier “probate” assets? Doesn’t a Will cover all my assets? What is a probate asset?

A Will does not cover all your assets.  It covers only probate assets.  To define “probate asset”, it’s helpful to understand what doesn’t qualify as a probate asset in Minnesota. The following are not probate assets: assets that are jointly held; assets that were held by the trustee of your revocable living trust; assets designated at your bank as payable-on-death or at an investment firm as transfer-on-death accounts; and assets that have beneficiary designations such as life insurance and retirement assets. (Note, however, that if you designate “my estate” as the beneficiary (which is typically not recommended), you’ve suddenly made the asset a probate asset.) In some situations a Transfer on Death Deed for your real estate will transform that asset to a non-probate asset. Assets not on the above list are probate assets.

A Will is how you exercise control over your probate assets.  Without a Will, the state of Minnesota has a law that dictates what happens to your assets after your death, and you may not like that distribution. The applicable Minnesota statute for the no-Will situation depends on various factors, such as whether there’s a surviving spouse, whether you have surviving children, and whether you have children from an earlier marriage.

A Will gives you control — that you otherwise would not have — to control who gets what of your probate assets, and in what proportion. 

A Will also enables you to nominate someone to be the personal representative – i.e. the person who administers your estate after your death. Your act of selecting someone as personal representative may help avoid fights among your relatives after your death.

Consult with an estate planning lawyer to consider the strategy that might best meet your goals.

©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 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..

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..

Loan or Gift?

Cash pileNasty family fights may erupt after your death if it’s not clear whether the money that you transferred to one of your children during your lifetime was a gift or a loan.

If it was a loan, the child borrower must repay the money to your estate. If it was a gift, no money is owed to your estate. » Read more..

Trusts Aren’t Just for Millionaires

Trust Doc 2You don’t need to be a millionaire or billionaire to benefit from a Revocable Living Trust.

A key benefit of a Revocable Living Trust is to control the ages at which your children receive their inheritance. Without a trust, sons and daughters as young as 18 years of age receive full distribution of their inheritance in Minnesota once your estate is settled. » Read more..

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..

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..

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..