St. Paul Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

The most important and forgotten step in estate planning

You've probably heard the drill many times. Every time a celebrity dies "intestate," without a will, we hear about the importance of making your wishes known to those left behind. Or perhaps your financial advisor or attorney or spouse is waiting for you to make an estate plan.

It seems like a good thing to do but never right now.

Effective methods of reducing estate tax

As someone who lives in Minnesota and has a valuable estate, you may have concerns about how much of it your beneficiaries will ultimately lose to estate taxes. While the threshold for having to pay estate taxes changes from one year to the next, if your estate has a value in excess of about $2.7 million, you may lose a significant portion of what you have worked hard to save to estate taxes.

Luckily, though, there are a number of efforts you can make that should reduce the amount your loved ones will lose out of their inheritances. So, what might you be able to do to reduce your estate tax burden in Minnesota?

Reasons to start estate planning now

Unfortunately, many young people do not see the point in creating estate plans in their 20s and 30s. Once you marry or have a child, you need to start planning for the future, and it is never too soon to develop an estate plan

Many people do not start thinking about wills and trusts until they are in their 50s. It makes sense because retirement is right around the corner, and children will likely be out of the house at this point. However, even millennials need to start planning for the future. You may not think it will apply to you at this point, but there are valid reasons for creating an estate plan early on in life. 

Are you planning your estate the right way?

Most people know they need an estate plan in place for when they eventually pass away. This can be easier said than done. A lot of people have no idea where to start with their estate plans, which is why it is crucial to set some clear, attainable goals. 

For starters, Minnesota has one of the highest state income tax rates in the country. When you develop your estate plan, you should try to make it in such a way to where your beneficiaries pay as little tax as possible. This requires a unique approach and some legal assistance. Here are some other common goals you may want to keep in mind as you craft your last will and testament. 

Talk to your family about your will

Many Hollywood films have glorified the "reading of the will." In these scenes, loved ones learn what they will receive from the deceased party during a physical meeting with the lawyer. Most of the time, there is some surprising information, such as one person receiving a large inheritance. 

In real life, you do not want there to be any surprises after you pass away. Everyone should know what they will receive in your will or trust. Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable talking about death and money in the same conversation. However, it is a vital step to take to ensure there are no complications after your passing. 

4 reasons to avoid DIY wills

Numerous articles have popped up in recent years telling people to make their wills without a lawyer. With the advent of the internet, it has never been simpler to make your own will, but you need to be cautious of this. 

You want to have professional help when it comes to crafting your estate planning documents. You seriously jeopardize your loved ones receiving the assets you want to leave them when you write a will independently. 

Common mistakes of married couples in estate planning

Estate plans help provide estate holders with peace of mind that the set process will ensure the proper handling of their assets once they have passed. This is essential for those who desire to provide for or help others even after they pass.

Particularly for couples, an estate plan is important, and improper planning may leave some areas uncovered. To help prevent this, there are a few common mistakes to avoid.

Common mistakes to avoid making with your estate plan

There are numerous mistakes to avoid making on a will or trust that could compromise the inheritances your beneficiaries will receive. One mistake you can make involves creating your own will.

You probably also know that you need more than a simple will in an estate plan. However, there are plenty of other actions to avoid because they can either be expensive and lengthy to fix or can compromise how much money your children end up receiving. 

Uncle Ned named you as his executor—now what?

You were happy to agree when your favorite uncle approached you about becoming the executor of his estate. However, you could not have foreseen his sudden demise. Now, the family is turning to you to deal with his final wishes and instructions. How do you proceed?

Distribute death certificates

What is a trustee?

Much of estate planning involves naming people, such as the beneficiaries of a will and financial accounts, the executor of the estate, powers of attorney and so on. If you wish to establish a trust as part of your plans, then you will also need to name a trustee.

To make the best decision on who that person should be, you first need to understand the duties and laws regarding this role.

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