Options in estate planning

Many people in Minnesota struggle over how to best handle their estates in a way that makes things easier for their heirs. Certain types of assets, such as life insurance benefits and retirement accounts, go to named beneficiaries. Homes that have a title with joint survivorship usually pass to the surviving owner. However, arrangements must be made for the distribution of other assets using either a will or revocable trust.

Wills are a very typical choice for estate planning. Many people find a will to be a very practical solution while some find that wills offer a disadvantage because the documents must be executed through probate court, which involves extra costs. This process might take months or years depending on a number of factors. Another thing that people may see as being a disadvantage is the fact that the probate process is public.

Revocable living trusts are a common choice for the distribution of assets because they offer greater privacy than wills. When a person creates a trust, they are the original trustee. A successor is named who can act on the trustee's behalf, and he or she also serves as the administrator of the assets after the original trustee's death. Everything included in the trust is distributed without the need for court intervention.

Since beneficiary designations are some of the issues that trouble people the most in the estate planning process, it may be beneficial for people to consult with an attorney when drafting a will or establishing a trust. The attorney could help a client understand how the process works and could write up the necessary documentation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Death Deal: Will or Revocable Living Trust?", Terry Savage , September 22, 2014

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