Tag Archive for beneficiary designations

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..

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..

Estate Planning for Minnesota Newlyweds

Estate PlanLegal paperwork for the newly married shouldn’t stop with the Minnesota marriage license.

An important wedding gift to give yourselves, as newlyweds, is peace of mind that you’ve left your new spouse in the best situation possible should tragedy occur to one of you.

What steps foster that peace of mind? » Read more..

POA and Beneficiary Designations

Under Minnesota law, an agent given power of attorney (POA) authority cannot change the beneficiary designations made by the power grantor.

Minnesota’s statutory so-called “short form” power of attorney document may authorize the agent to act regarding beneficiary transactions, but there is no specific authority to select or modify beneficiary designations made by the power grantor. As an example of a transaction, the power grantor’s agent (officially called an attorney-in-fact) may accept or disclaim assets for which the power grantor was named as a beneficiary of someone else’s assets. » Read more..

Questions to Ask Your Parents

Sometimes it’s hard for family members to get the conversation started regarding estate planning, so try these questions as an aid to this important discussion:

  1. Do you have a Will?
  2. Do you have a Health Care Directive?  » Read more..

Estate Planning is as Much About Life as Death

Thoughtful estate planning can 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 good estate plan is more than just the estate planning documents that you receive from your estate planning attorney. And, it is more than avoiding probate and minimizing estate taxes.   » Read more..

Should You Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Children?

There are pros and cons to whether you do or don’t discuss your estate plan with your children, but in many situations it is better that you do so.

It can be a hard conversation to start.  If you, as parents, initiate the discussion, your children may resist because they don’t want to think about your eventual death. If your children initiate the conversation, you may believe that their primary interest in you is how much they might inherit.

In reality, however, you have a lot more to talk about.  » Read more..