Tag Archive for Will

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

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. » Read more..

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..

Keeping the Family Peace with Your Estate Plan

Studio portrait.

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..

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..

Should Family Pay the Deceased’s Bills?

Careful! It may be best to pause before paying bills of the deceased.

It’s important to first know what the assets of the estate are, and what claims are being made against those assets. Is the estate solvent? If not, Minnesota law sets out a priority list for paying creditors. The creditors at the bottom of the priority list may not receive anything. » 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..

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..