There is perhaps no area of law that has the potential to impact your loved ones more than estate planning does. By adequately preparing for life after death, proceeding through the estate planning process can help ensure that those you love most will be well-protected long after you’re gone.
A will is a legal document that essentially provides instructions about how you would like your assets to be distributed after you are gone. By putting a will in place, you are documenting your wishes and ensuring that your wishes are carried out once you pass away. If you pass away without leaving a will, Minnesota’s inheritance laws will decide how your estate will be divided, which can lead to additional stress and potential disputes among your loved ones. A will allows you and your family to retain the control, rather than leaving these important decisions in the hands of the court.
In the State of Minnesota, a trust manages the distribution of your assets following your death. Sometimes a trust with a pourover will is a better plan than just a will. A trust is created with the transfer of property by the owner (i.e. you) to another person (i.e. the trustee, which is usually also you) during your lifetime. Keep in mind that a successor trustee can be a professional with financial knowledge, a relative and/or friend. You may also enlist the services of a professional trust company. Your trustee will hold the title to your property and manage your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries. Contact Waldron Law Offices, Ltd. today to learn more about how trusts can minimize estate taxes while keeping your hard-earned assets where they belong—within the family, while avoiding probate.
Powers of Attorney
Another necessary estate planning document you should put in place is a durable power of attorney. Durable means that the document continues to be effective even if you become incompetent. When you select a person to make legal decisions on your behalf, that person is called your attorney-in-fact and, by default, they have the power of attorney when making any financial decisions with regards to your estate while you are living, in the event you are incompetent or simply absent. Any adult of sound mind may serve as your attorney-in-fact. There are many types of powers of attorney; for example, you can appoint someone for a temporary purpose, e.g. to finalize a business transaction, such as a real estate purchase, in your stead if you are not able to be physically present. Whether temporary or not, powers of attorney are useful to make sure that your best interests, and those of your loved ones, are properly protected by someone you trust when the time comes. A power of attorney only operates during your lifetime, its effectiveness ceases upon your death.
Health Care Directives
While it is not pleasant to think about a time when you could be incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes, it is essential that you put a Health Care Directive in place well before that time arrives. A Health Care Directive is a written document informing your loved ones of your wishes regarding your health care in the event you can’t communicate them. It allows you to designate an agent to make health-related decisions on your behalf. While many people think that they don’t need to create a Health Care Directive until they are much older, it’s recommended that young adults and new parents put them in place “just in case.” We are here to help you determine what circumstances to plan for and what that process will look like, so that you can trust that your wishes will be known and respected when the time comes.
Take Steps to Protect Your Future Today
Even though it may not ever feel like the “right time” to create an estate plan, it’s important to have these challenging conversations and to put these documents in place to make sure that you and your loved ones are kept safe. If you and your family are currently considering establishing anything in the area of estate planning above, or have any questions regarding estate planning, reach out to Waldron Law Offices, Ltd. today.