I wrote the book on Minnesota probate.

New Year’s Resolution: Make or Revise Your Will

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2010 | Assets, Bill Peterson, Estate Planning, Firm News, Intestacy, Will |

One And Done: Updating Your Will Is Easy!

The tough thing about most New Year’s Resolutions is that they require daily exercise, financial management, dessert denial, or other great effort. On the other hand, the great thing about the Resolution to make a Will is that you only have to do it once every few years and the Resolution is accomplished!

What’s In A Will?

A Will provides specific direction as to how your assets should be distributed after your death. The fear that the state will seize all of your property is unfounded. On the other hand, the Legislature has enacted an “intestacy” law if you don’t have a Will. This means that your property will be divided according to a plan that the Legislature has decided about how your survivors will get what you leave in your estate.

No Chance To Direct The Estate Proceeds

This does not leave any room for contributions to a particular religious or other charitable group. If you want to leave a family heirloom or memento to someone who is not in the statutory plan, the intestacy law will not permit it. If you have a relative whom you do not wish to inherit anything, the intestacy may give him a bequest anyway.

The Solution Is A Will

The solution is to have a Will. It can be done rather quickly and quite inexpensively.

Clients sometimes ask “How can I avoid probate?” Their assumption is that Probate is an evil that should be avoided at any cost. Sometimes Probate should be avoided and sometimes Probate can be the best friend of the Will-maker (called the “Testator”) and his or her beneficiaries.

What needs to be done is a frank evaluation of your estate planning objectives and how the different possible estate planning tools fit what you want to accomplish.

A Living Trust As An Alternative

If “probate-avoidance” is appropriate in your case, it may be advisable to consider a Living Trust or joint ownership of property with the right of survivorship. Sometimes these are very good alternatives and sometimes they are not.

We’ll be happy to sit down with you for a no charge, no-obligation consultation about your best estate options.

The contents of this video are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.