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What is estate planning?

Estate planning is more than just having a will in place. Estate planning addresses several key issues, including: what happens to your assets when you pass away; how your children are cared for when you pass away; who makes medical, financial, or legal decisions for you if you are incapacitated; and whether your family will have to deal with the court system and probate process.

Is estate planning only for the wealthy?

No. Estate planning is important regardless of the size of your estate. In fact, without estate planning, you and your family will spend much more money on court costs and other fees. We work with a wide range of clients, from those with modest estates to business owners and real estate developers.

What happens to my minor children if I pass away?

If you pass away with minor children and neither legal parent is still alive, a judge will determine who the guardian should be for your children. If you would like to make this determination, instead of a judge, you have to appoint a guardian for your minor children in a will or similar document.

Do I need a will?

A will generally does the following three things: (1) appoints a guardian for any minor children; (2) appoints a personal representative to manage the estate; and (3) determines how probate assets will be divided. Although a will is beneficial to have in place, it may not accomplish all of your estate planning goals.

Does a will help me avoid probate?

A proper estate plan can keep many assets out of probate, but having a will by itself won’t avoid all the expenses and delays of the court-driven probate process. Rather, a will provides a set of instructions to the probate court judge as to how your estate should be handled.

Do I need a revocable living trust?

A revocable living trust is an alternative to a will that provides greater flexibility and helps keep your assets out of the court system and the probate process. A revocable living trust is recommended if you have a complicated estate, own a business, own multiple pieces of real estate, own real estate in multiple states, have a complicated family situation, are in a second marriage, or desire to avoid the probate process. We can help you determine whether a revocable living trust is right for you.

Do I need a health care directive?

If you are incapacitated and can no longer make your own medical decisions, a health care directive does two things for you: (1) appoints a health care agent to make medical decisions for you; and (2) provides specific instructions as to your health care wishes. Without a health care directive in place, your family may have to go through an expensive formal guardianship proceeding to determine how these same decisions will be made.

Do I need a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows you to appoint an attorney-in-fact to make legal or financial decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney can be used for convenience or to address incapacity (when you can no longer manage your own finances). Without a power of attorney, your family may have to go through an expensive formal conservatorship proceeding to determine who will manage your finances.

What different types of trusts are there?

There are many different types of trusts. Testamentary trusts, often times called “support trusts,” can be used to protect assets for minor children or other beneficiaries who may not be able to manage assets on their own. A cabin trust can be used to ease the transition of real estate from one generation to the next. An irrevocable trust can be used to protect certain assets from creditors or reduce the amount of estate taxes owed. A supplemental needs trust or special needs trust can be used to provide for a child, or other family member, with a mental or physical disability. Our estate planning attorneys can assist you in determining which type of trust best suits your needs.

What type of tax planning is required for my estate plan?

Depending on the value of your estate, tax planning can be a critical component of your estate plan. Similar to income taxes, estate taxes occur both at the state and federal level. Because the tax laws around estate planning are always changing, it is important to work with an estate planning attorney to make sure that you minimize or avoid estate taxes.

What can I do to protect my cabin in the event of my death?

The family cabin is often the most important asset in someone’s estate. Therefore, estate planning is critical to ensure the cabin stays in the family. Proper planning around the family cabin can reduce conflict, protect the cabin from creditors, and make sure the cabin stays in the family for generations to come. We work with families to keep the cabin in the family.

Estate planning lawyers and elder law lawyers address some of life’s most important issues, like how to protect your assets, plan for incapacity, and support children or other beneficiaries. As Minnesota’s population ages, these issues continue to become more important. An experienced estate planning lawyer or elder law lawyer is often an essential part of protecting your legacy, your assets, and your peace of mind.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is preparing for the transfer of your wealth and assets in the manner you decide, for example:

Your estate contains your assets, life insurance, pensions, cars, real estate, personal belongings, and your debts. A well-structured estate plan ensures that you — and your family — are protected, there are no loose ends, and all your goals are met. An experienced estate planning attorney will structure your written, signed, and notarized estate plan precisely to your intentions.

This is not just a tool of the wealthy, either. Regardless of the size of your estate, you and your family can be secure in the knowledge that you are preserving your property and possessions as well as your every desire for handling your affairs.

Wills

Although a will is not legally required in Minnesota, if a person dies without a will, courts will decide how your assets will be distributed. A well-structured will allows a person to provide for the most important people in his or her life, including a spouse, children, or other loved ones. Dying without a will can create complications for the distribution of assets.

Although having a will can provide clarity to family and reduce complications, a will does not help avoid probate. The will has to go through probate to take effect. The best way to protect your assets and ensure the integrity of your wishes for distributing your assets is to meet with an estate planning lawyer at Bolt Hoffer Boyd. Call for a free consultation today.

Trusts

A trust is an important part of a well-crafted estate plan.

There are three parties in a trust — the trustor, the trustee, and the beneficiary.

Common Types of Trusts

There are many types of trusts. The most common ones are living trusts, irrevocable trusts, revocable trusts, supplemental needs trusts, special needs trusts, and testamentary trusts.

Benefits of a Trust

Different types of trusts address unique features and benefits. Common benefits of trusts include asset protection and minimizing estate taxes. A living trust also allows for the desired allocation of assets while avoiding court fees and probate.

A trust may be the best way for you to protect your wealth and financial legacy, regardless of the size of your estate.

Estate planning, especially with trusts, is a complicated area of law. Everybody’s situation is unique. It is best to seek the counsel of an estate planning attorney to draft a will or trust. Call Bolt Hoffer Boyd for a free consultation today.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is an essential part of an estate plan that has both benefits and limitations. The power of attorney — POA — names one or more “agents” or “attorneys-in-fact” to act on your behalf. This agent is often your spouse or adult child. The POA can be general, allowing the agent to take any action on your behalf, or it can be limited to specific actions.

The POA is necessary because you need someone to manage your assets, pay your bills, and make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
A POA can eliminate the need to go through an expensive formal conservatorship to decide who is going to manage your finances.

Health Care Directive

A health care directive serves as a guideline on how you wish to be cared for if you become unable to communicate such desires. Typically, people choose a spouse or adult child to act as their agent should this need arise. It is their duty to fulfill your health care directive as best as possible while you are incapiticated.

In order for the directive to be legally recognized it must be in writing and signed by you or an authorized representative. Witnesses or a notary public are required to be present when this document is signed. Although it is suggested that the directive be as thorough as possible in describing your wishes, you may also defer judgement to an appointed health care agent to act in your best interests. Due to the high importance of this document, an estate planning attorney should always be consulted to ensure all of your needs are recorded.

Business Succession Planning

Estate planning is a vital part of securing a business too. Whether you want to keep a business in the family or sell it before or after you die, careful planning can ensure the business continues to operate in your absence and you do not incur a large tax liability. There are ways to pass the business to a co-owner, too, such as a buy-sell agreement, that can be structured to accommodate your and your partners’ plans.

You want to be certain that a business succession plan addresses the systematic transfer of ownership of the management of your business. In addition, a proper business succession plan will ensure that your business doesn’t end up in probate. The experienced estate planning lawyers and business succession planning lawyers at Bolt Hoffer Boyd will help you create a comprehensive succession plan for your business. Call today for a free consultation.

Many senior citizens will require some kind of special care as they age, either in their own homes or in a nursing facility for independent, assisted, or continuing care. Many will also require proper planning for their estates. An elder law lawyer may handle issues such as wills, estates, and trusts. But that is not all. Elder law concerns all kinds of matters that senior citizens might find important. The legal needs of Minnesota’s senior citizens include issues such as the following:

Elderly Man

Long-term Care Planning

We are all probably going to be seniors one day. One of the best ways to prepare for that is to establish a long-term care plan as part of our estate plan, which is discussed. The high cost of assisted living means that it is crucial that long-term care planning begin sooner rather than later.

Many people associate this planning with nursing homes. The truth is, many of the services required for elder care are provided in home. Personal care, transportation, nutrition and dietary needs are examples of such services and their expenses can add up very quickly.

Public Benefits

An experienced elder law lawyer and estate planning lawyer can assist you in making sure no bases go uncovered when it comes to planning for your senior years. You want to know what plans are publicly, as well as privately, available so you receive what you are entitled to receive.

Understanding what services are covered under programs like medicare and medicaid will save you and your family on expenses you’d otherwise pay out of pocket. The elderly waiver program, for instance, allows services that normally occur in a hospital or nursing facility to be provided at home. In order to assess eligibility, a thorough examination is necessary of your senior loved one’s current status, condition and history.

Tax and Pension Planning

Pensions are not as common as they once were. Many retirees have 401(k)s today. If you do have a pension, however, it may be taxed in ways that can vary from state to state. Attorneys experienced in elder law and estate planning can help you establish the best plan of action for you and your future.

Guardianship and Conservatorship

Elderly guardianship is a court process to appoint a guardian to take care of the physical needs of an individual who requires care. Elderly conservatorship is where the court appoints a conservator to manage the financial assets for a person who is unable to do so. Both guardianships and conservatorships require a significant amount of court involvement.

Health Care Issues and Planning

Seniors have more options today when it comes to their health care issues. Families can arrange for senior care in the home or in facilities that offer a variety of care options. Depending on their needs, seniors have a several options to live comfortably. Many communities offer either assisted living or independent living and even have specialized services such as memory care.

The easiest way to transition from the current living situation to one mentioned above is to assess what daily activities require help and how often is that help needed. Everyone wants their loved one to feel like they are at home and careful planning will aid in ensuring that all parties are satisfied without having to compromise on the necessities.

Abuse and Neglect

We do not like to think it happens, but elder abuse is a real problem. Sadly, it often goes unnoticed and unreported. Seniors may be afraid or embarrassed to report abuse. Elder abuse can take place in nursing care centers or in the individual’s home. Sometimes family caregivers are the source of abuse.

Some of the warning signs of elder abuse and neglect include the following:

If you are a senior experiencing abuse or neglect, or if you know of instances of abuse or neglect of an elderly person, contact Bolt Hoffer Boyd for a free consultation to discuss how best to address the issue.