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Trusts

Friday, July 14, 2017

Living Trusts Vs. Wills: Choosing the Right Estate Planning Tool


There many types of estate planning tools and each one offers benefits and drawbacks. Some tools work better to accomplish certain goals than others. In addition, some individuals or families may not need to utilize certain options, while others will need a variety of more complex choices.

Revocable living trusts and wills are similar because they allow you to name beneficiaries for your property. These are both perhaps some of the most widely used estate planning tools, but they accomplish diverse goals.
Read more . . .


Thursday, July 13, 2017

7 Secrets to Drafting a Successful Will.

Writing a Will is something everybody should do.  With a Will, you can name a guardian for your minor children, decide who gets your assets, and appoint someone to sort out your estate.  A properly drafted Will should help maintain family harmony, negate confusion and minimize any time your family has to spend in court.  A Will certainly shouldn’t cause family conflict or confusion or require your family to spend thousands of dollars and hours in court just to determine your wishes.  However, since you won’t be around to witness how your Will actually functions, you should take steps now to ensure that your Will does exactly what you want.  Below are the 7 Secrets of a Successful Will:

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Pet Trusts…Because Fido is Not a Piece of Furniture


Q: How do I provide for my pet’s future care if I die or become disabled first?

Your pet trusts you with its life. She curls up at your feet in the den. He waits at the window-- tail wagging-- eager for your return home.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your pet if you didn't make it home? Would your pet be protected if death or disability struck you first?

If you consider your pet a member of the family then you should consider a pet trust.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Prepare Your Trustee to Manage Your Trust.

One of the jobs of a Minnesota trust lawyer is to help clients choose the person who will be responsible for a trust that has been set up.  This trustee has several very important jobs, and things will go smoother if he or she is aware of these responsibilities up front.  Here is some good information that should be shared with a trustee in order to administer the trust with as little difficulty as possible when the time comes.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holiday Talks, Part 3: Discussing Your Parents’ Estate Planning Needs

As I discussed in Part I of this series, your parents may feel reluctant to discuss details of their estate plan.  For many personal matters such as finances and health care wishes are to remain private. But, it’s important to have this discussion so long as you are operating with the proper intentions.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Talks, Part 2: Discussing Your Estate Plans With Your Adult Children

It is a common occurrence to have clients come to me after a parent died and say “I didn’t know XXX (fill in the blank) about my Mom or Dad.” Many parents feel reluctant to discuss financial and estate matters with their children. However, any good estate planning attorney would encourage (even urge) you to have this discussion. 

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Changing Uses for Bypass Trusts

Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Explains the Reasons Why You May Want a Bypass Trust

Every year, each individual who dies in the U.S. can leave a certain amount of money to his or her heirs before facing any federal estate taxes. For example, in 2013, a person who died could leave $5.25 million to his or her heirs (or a charity) estate tax free, and everything over that amount would be taxable by the federal government. Transfers at death to a spouse are not taxable.

Therefore, if a husband died owning $8 million in assets in 2013 and passed everything to his wife, that transfer was not taxable because transfers to spouses at death are not taxable. However, if the wife died later that year owning that $8 million in assets, everything over $5.25 million (her exemption amount) would be taxable by the federal government. Couples would effectively have the use of only one exemption amount unless they did some special planning, or left a chunk of their property to someone other than their spouse.

Estate tax law provided a tool called “bypass trusts” that would allow a spouse to leave an inheritance to the surviving spouse in a special trust. That trust would be taxable and would use up the exemption amount of the first spouse to die. However, the remaining spouse would be able to use the property in that bypass trust to live on, and would also have the use of his or her exemption amount when he or she passed. This planning technique effectively allowed couples to combine their exemption amounts.

For the year 2013, each person who dies can pass $5.25 million free from federal estate taxes.  This exemption amount is adjusted for inflation every year.  In addition, spouses can combine their exemption amounts without requiring a bypass trust (making the exemptions “portable” between spouses). This change in the law appears to make bypass trusts useless, at least until Congress decides to remove the portability provision from the estate tax law.

However, bypass trusts can still be valuable in many situations, such as:

(1)  Remarriage or blended families. You may be concerned that your spouse will remarry and cut the children out of the will after you are gone. Or, you may have a blended family and you may fear that your spouse will disinherit your children in favor of his or her children after you pass. A bypass trust would allow the surviving spouse to have access to the money to live on during life, while providing that everything goes to the children at the surviving spouse’s death.

(2)  State estate taxes. Currently, Minnesota has an estate tax exemption of 1.2 million per person (to increase to 2 million by 2018), so a bypass trust may be helpful to allow you and your spouse to combine your assets that can be exempt from state estate tax.

(3)  Changes in the estate tax law. Estate tax laws have been in flux over the past several years. What if you did an estate plan assuming that bypass trusts were unnecessary, Congress removed the portability provision, and you neglected to update your estate plan? You could be paying thousands or even millions of dollars in taxes that you could have saved by using a bypass trust.

(4)  Protecting assets from creditors. If you leave a large inheritance outright to your spouse and children, and a creditor appears on the scene, the creditor may be able to seize all the money. Although many people think that will not happen to their family, divorces, bankruptcies, personal injury lawsuits, and hard economic times can unexpectedly result in a large monetary judgment against a family member.

Although it may appear that bypass trusts have lost their usefulness, there are still many situations in which they can be invaluable tools to help families avoid estate taxes.

 Don't pay unnecessary taxes, call a Minneapolis estate planning attorney now to discuss your options with an attorney.


Monday, February 23, 2015

A Discussion of Wills, Part 3: Beware of “Simple” Estate Plans

“I just need a simple will.”  It’s a phrase I hear at least once a week.   What could be wrong with that?  This post explains the many common situations in which a "simple will" may not be a good fit for your family tells the cautionary tale of one family who relied on a will purchased at a stationary store.


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Monday, November 24, 2014

What is a Successor Trustee

A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Defines a Successor Trustee and Explains Why You Should Have One

You did everything right. You sat down with a lawyer, paid her to draft your estate plan, created a living trust and named each other as trustees. But, the unthinkable happened and your spouse died before you did. You were so sure it would be you first. Your lawyer now explains that you are the successor trustee and that you must now administer your spouse's trust. What does she mean by a successor trustee? 


Read more . . .


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Simple Will Is Not Enough

Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Explains the Minimum Documents You Need to Protect Your Family

I sometimes hear comments like "I just need a simple will" or "Why can't I just get my will on the internet"?  I want to be clear that a basic last will and testament cannot accomplish every goal of estate planning; in fact, it often cannot even accomplish the most common goals.  This fact often surprises people who are going through the estate planning process for the first time. Or worse, the family left behind finds this out when they attempt to settle a loved ones estate.  In addition to a last will and testament, there are other important planning tools which are necessary to ensure your estate planning wishes are honored.


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Can You Remove A Trustee?

In creating a trust, the trustmaker must name a trustee who has the legal obligation to administer it in accordance with the trustmaker’s wishes and intentions. In some cases, after the passing of the trustmaker, loved ones or beneficiaries may want to remove the designated trustee.


Read more . . .


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From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park.



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