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White Bear Lake, Minnesota Estate Planning Law Blog

This is why estate planning is so important

Some of the world's greatest entrepreneurs began their journeys into business because they didn't want to work for someone else. They wanted to control their own careers. You might feel this way about money and other financial issues. You want to make your own decisions and choices regarding how you spend your money, how much you save and what will happen to your money after you die.

The latter issue is often the base of the estate planning process. However, if you tend to avoid discussions about your own mortality, you may avoid executing an estate plan, as well. This post is all about why estate planning is so important and reasons that prompt even those who have been procrastinating to ultimately decide to put things in writing and develop strong estate plans.

Does an ALS diagnosis have you considering your long-term care?

Various life events can cause Minnesota residents to consider their end-of-life wishes. In some cases, a loved one may have passed and caused surviving family members to consider their own mortality. In other instances, individuals could receive an unfavorable medical diagnosis and want to get their affairs in order before the situation worsens.

For you, ALS may have been the driving factor behind a desire to consider your long-term care and end-of-life wishes. You may have anticipated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affecting your life because a parent or other close relative has the condition, or the diagnosis may have come completely out of the blue.

Finding a loved one's assets for probate can take effort

When a loved one passes away, it can seem as if you are in a whirlwind of events and emotions. Funeral arrangements may need making or at least carried out, surviving family members may come and go, people will say goodbyes and the estate will need settling. If your loved one named you as the executor of his or her estate, your experience with your loved one's passing may continue for some time.

The executor holds the responsibility of settling the final affairs of a deceased person. The probate process can take a considerable amount of time, and you may seem at a loss for how to take certain steps, even at the beginning.

You can limit the abilities of your power of attorney agent

Because an estate plan can go further than simply creating a will, it is important that you and other Minnesota residents understand the various planning tools available to you. Rather than simply using your plan to determine who should receive your assets after you pass away, you could also use it to designate individuals to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated as well as to leave instructions for your care.

When it comes to putting someone in a position of power, you can utilize power of attorney documents to do so. The power of attorney agent would have the ability to make financial decisions for you and have access to your financial accounts to handle necessary obligations. Though you have the ability to appoint this person yourself while you are still sound of mind, you may worry that someone could abuse such power.

Long-term care carries a high price

If you are like many in Minnesota, you have not wanted to think about the possibility of your parent needing long-term care. Perhaps you assumed you would be able to take care of your parent in the later years or honor his or her wishes to remain at home. Unfortunately, if you are noticing your loved one declining in physical or mental health, you may be realizing neither of these is a viable option.

You may assume your parent will rely on Medicaid at some point to fund the services he or she will need. Medicaid is means-based; to qualify for Medicaid in Minnesota, your parent may have no more than $3,000 in assets, although it varies from state to state. You may want to assist your parent by distributing some of those assets to other family members. However, each state also has a look-back period, and asset transfers that fall within that period may result in penalties. There are other options.

Is it time to start estate planning?

When many people picture someone going through the estate planning process, they may imagine a white-haired man and woman thinking about how they will distribute property to their grandkids. While common, this mental picture may not be the one you need to have when it comes to estate planning.

Even if you have recently reached the age of 30 and feel as if you have your whole life ahead of you, it may benefit you to start estate planning. Even at this young age, you have likely accumulated assets that will need addressing in the event of your demise, and you may already have children of your own whom you certainly want to protect after such an event.

Using estate planning to pass on your house

These days, you may transfer many of your larger assets to loved ones upon your death without them even going through probate. Beneficiary designations, transfer-on-death accounts and pay-on-death accounts allow you to pass on retirement accounts, investment accounts and deposit accounts to one or more beneficiaries directly.

This may leave only your house that would need to go through probate upon your death. Fortunately, even this asset can pass to a loved one directly. Even so, as with most things in life, downsides exist, which means you need to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

How To Discuss Estate Planning With Your Parents

One of the most difficult things to discuss with loved ones is the eventuality that each of them will someday die. The inherent reference to mortality in a conversation about estate planning has many adult children uncomfortable discussing this important task with their parents.

Estate planning should not be ignored, however, because of its ability to formalize wishes about financial management, healthcare, and gifts to family and friends. Here are strategies to make talking with your parents about estate planning a little easier.

What is a revocable living trust and do you need one?

Like many Minnesota residents, you probably know that you need a will. Otherwise, the state gets to decide where your assets go after you pass away. However, a will is not the only estate-planning document you can use to provide for your family after your death.

Have you considered a revocable living trust? This and other types of trusts are not only for the rich and famous. Depending on your family circumstances, a living trust could provide the best way for you to provide for your family after your death.

You've been appointed as executor. What does that mean?

You might feel like other Minnesota residents whose loved ones want them to serve as executors of their estates. You appreciate the trust and honor, but don't know what duties the law and the court require you to perform when the time comes. Hopefully, your loved one asked you if you would like to serve in this capacity before putting it in writing.

It might help you make your decision to have at least a rudimentary understanding of what an executor does. If you weren't given the chance to make the choice, but you still agreed to serve after the death of the loved one who appointed you, the information below will provide you with an outline of your duties.

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