Tag Archive for Will

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.

Importantly, a woman needs a solid handle on what happens to her financially upon her husband’s death.  What assets remain for her?  How liquid (i.e. accessible) are those assets? What will happen to her standard of living? Should she keep the house or sell it?

The woman’s standard of living likely will be reduced after the death of her spouse because the total value of Social Security payments received by the household will decrease after the husband’s death.

Knowledge empowers. Women typically fare better when they have the control that comes from (1) understanding their personal financial picture; and (2) having an updated estate plan in place.

Given her statistically longer life, a woman likely will need money to cover more retirement years than her husband will need. And, her longer life may mean that her medical needs are greater, too. A Minnesota durable power of attorney will be particularly beneficial for handling certain financial matters as the woman ages and perhaps develops dementia. A Minnesota health care directive will provide assurance that the agents that she names will follow her wishes related to her body when she can no longer communicate for herself.

Done correctly, the estate planning process involves a review of the couple’s assets and includes recommendations as to who should be the owner of each asset, and how beneficiary designations might best be handled. The discussion with an estate planning attorney will also help her understand when probate is and isn’t required in Minnesota.

A Revocable Living Trust may enhance her control. A Revocable Living Trust provides a mechanism for management of the woman’s assets during any periods of her incapacity or periods when she prefers to relinquish control to her successor trustee. A Revocable Living Trust may also make settlement of her estate simpler. Typically, there’s no court involvement with Revocable Living Trusts – before or after death. Probate involves the court.

If a  is involved, and there are children from first marriages, estate planning is especially important to protect some assets for the children of the first of the couple to die.

The best time to prepare an estate plan is now. When you get your affairs in order you can confidently go on with the rest of your life!

©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 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?

Wooden dice with question marks on it over white background

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..

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..