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Getting Started

When most people think of estate planning, they think of a Will. And indeed these are often the most important part of a successful estate plan. A Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive are also often included in an estate plan, as these documents greatly assist your loved ones and the people taking care of you at the end of life. Some people also choose to prepare a Trust, which can save a lot of money later and avoid having to go to court at all to transfer property.

Estate planning documents take many different forms, and an individual's circumstances should be closely examined to determine the best way to transfer property after death. Just to name of few of the considerations that must be taken into account:

What kinds of property does the individual have, and what are they likely to own at the time of death?
Are there minor children that need to be cared for?
Given the size of the estate, what needs to be done to minimize or eliminate estate taxes?
Is the family likely to get along during the administration process, or is it possible that a dispute may arise?
Is property that is owned better off being re-titled, to ease transfer?

These questions, along with many others, must be considered to come up with an answer to the most important question: how do you best take care of the ones you love when you die?

If you live in the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area of Minnesota and are ready to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of, contact us today for a free consultation in your home.


Do I need a Will?

No. In the State of Minnesota, a court will divide up your property and dispose of it for you if you do not want to do any advanced planning before you die. Most people, however, are uncomfortable with a court making such important decisions for them, and choose to prepare a plan that protects their wishes and the people they love.

If you do choose to do advanced planning, a Will is going to play an important part in the successful transfer of your property.

Why not just get one of those form Wills that are advertised on the internet?

Another way of phrasing this question is "what do i risk for my family's future by saving a little money now?"

A Will is not valid just because it sets out to whom you wish to give your property to and you sign it, there are many formalities that are required by law for a Will to be valid. If anything is wrong in the execution of the Will, the court will declare the Will invalid, and in turn the court will determine what to do with your property. Form Wills are very apparent to a trained eye, and judges take extra care before they will admit a suspicious Will to probate. Form Wills also tend to be challenged at a much higher rate than professionally prepared ones, again owing to the increased likelihood that a court will find reason to refuse to admit a Will to probate.

Perhaps even more important is the professional advice that you receive when you have a lawyer draft your estate planning documents. A Form Will is going to be much more rigid in what it will allow you to do than most people would be comfortable with. Especially in families with minor children, much more individualized care needs to be taken to be sure that your property will be allowed to be used to provide for your children and to make sure that it is you that is choosing who will take care of them and not a court.

In the end a Will is just like anything else in life: you get what you pay for.