Wednesday, April 15, 2015
An executor's fee is the amount charged by the person who has been appointed as the executor of the probate estate for handling all of the necessary steps in the probate administration. Therefore, if you have been appointed an executor of someone’s estate, you might be entitled to a fee for your services. This fee could be based upon a variety of factors and some of those factors may be dependent upon state, or even local, law.
General Duties of an Executor
- Securing the decedent's home (changing locks, etc.)
- Identifying and collecting all bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds
- Having all real estate appraised; having all tangible personal property appraised
- Paying all of the decedent’s debts and final expenses
- Making sure all income and estate tax returns are prepared, filed and any taxes paid
- Collecting all life insurance proceeds and retirement account assets
- Accounting for all actions; and making distributions of the estate to the beneficiaries or heirs.
This list is not all-inclusive and depending upon the particular estate more, or less, steps may be needed.
As you can see, there is a lot of work (and legal liability) involved in being the executor of an estate. Typically the executor would keep track of his or her time and a reasonable hourly rate would be used. Other times, an executor could charge based upon some percent of the value of the estate assets. What an executor may charge, and how an executor can charge, may be governed by state law or even a local court's rules. You also asked whether the deceased can make you agree not to take a fee. The decedent can put in his or her will that the executor should serve without compensation but the named executor is not obligated to take the job. He or she could simply decline to serve. If no one will serve without taking a fee, and if the decedents will states the executor must serve without a fee, a petition could be filed with the court asking them to approve a fee even if the will says otherwise. Notice should be given to all interested parties such as all beneficiaries.
If you have been appointed an executor or have any other probate or estate planning issues, contact us for a consultation today.
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.Read more . . .
Monday, February 16, 2015
What Happens If Your Heir Doesn't Want What You Are Giving?
Beneficiaries may not want the asset left to them? Why? And what happens if they reject it? I explain the reasons why someone may reject an inheritance and what happens to it if they do.Read more . . .
Monday, February 09, 2015
When to Involve Adult Children in the Estate Planning Process
Should you bring your kids to meet with your estate planning attorney? I discuss the issues related to having them present and what an estate planning attorney should do if you want the children involved.Read more . . .
Monday, January 26, 2015
Leaving a Timeshare to a Loved One
You have a timeshare in a warm sunny place and want to leave it to a loved one to inherit. How can you do this? What are the issues unique to owning a timeshare?Read more . . .
Monday, January 12, 2015
A Discussion About Wills, Part 2: Is a copy of a will sufficient?
A Minneapolis Probate Lawyer Discusses the Issue of Using a Will Copy in a Probate
Many people keep their important documents at home where they are easily accessible. It’s not at all uncommon to find people with a filing cabinet or even a shoe box containing passports, account statements, deeds, tax returns, birth certificates and social security cards. Wills are often added to these files once the estate planning process is completed. In choosing to store your important estate planning documents at home, however, you risk having the originals lost or destroyed in the case of fire, flooding or theft. So what happens if the original version of your will is lost or ruined?
When a person dies, Minnesota law determines what must happen in the state probate proceeding. In most cases, the "original" of the will must be submitted to the probate court in the county where the person resided. If the original of the will cannot be located and provided to the court, Minnesota's probate code does permit the submission of a photocopy of that signed will though it may cause a delay.
Should you lose the original copy of your will, the best practice would be for you to execute a new will which would make things easier for your family and loved ones upon your death. In that case there would be better assurances that your wishes were followed and carried out. Preparing a new will should not take much time for your attorney. If you work with Unique Estate Law, we can easily finalize a new original for you. In addition, if you have our Foundational Estate Plan, then you received a free account with Legal Vault and copies of your documents should all be online for your, or your loved ones, to access in case of emergency. If for some reason this is not done, you may wish to execute a document stating the original was destroyed in a flood or fire but that you did not intend to revoke it.
Another option to consider to keep the originals of your estate planning documents safe, even in the face of disaster, is purchasing a fireproof/waterproof safe for your home or rent a safe deposit box with a local bank where you can still easily access your documents but keep them secure off-site. Many of my clients have gun safes and have decided to put their plan in the safe. Also, each county in Minnesota will, for a small fee, store your original will.
If you have any questions on storage of your documents, please contact an estate planning attorney at Unique Estate Law.
Monday, January 05, 2015
A Discussion About Wills, Part 1: You Really Do Need a Will
A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Discusses Why You Need a Will
Believe it or not, my busiest time of year is around the holidays and New Year's. I can only guess that it has to do with family getting together and realizing that they may need to take care of business matters for family members. So, I decided to start 2015 with a primer on wills. This is the first in my series on planning for the unexpected using a will.
“Do I really need a will?”
This is the most common questions clients ask but it’s really just a rhetorical question. You already have a will. But how is that possible you ask? You’ve never met with a lawyer or put anything in writing? It doesn’t matter because the state has generously provided one for you free of cost. So, the decision on whether to spend the time and expense in drafting a will comes down to two questions. The first question is:
Do you care who does or doesn’t get your stuff?
Whether it’s a Wii game system or a house, we all care about who gets our stuff. Perhaps you really want your best friend, NOT your brother, to get the Wii system. You must specify that in writing. The second question is:
Do you trust the State?
Before you answer keep in mind that while Minnesota’s divides your stuff between your immediate family members, this does not include your partner, stepchild, best friend or unadopted children. So, in the above example, the State will give your Wii system to your brother before your best friend.
I recognize that the above illustration is somewhat silly but the State’s decisions on property inheritance can be devastating to nontraditional families. My next post will further discuss what will happen to your property if you rely on the State’s will instead of drafting your own.
But you don’t need to read that far. If you want control over who will get your stuff, get a will now!
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 . . .
Monday, November 10, 2014
How to Choose an Executor
A Minneapolis Probate Lawyer Discusses Selecting An Executor Post Mortem
The death of a loved one is a difficult experience no matter the circumstances. It can be especially difficult when a person dies without a will. If a person dies without a will and there are assets that need to be distributed, the estate will be subject to the process of administration instead of probate proceedings.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.Read more . . .
Thursday, April 03, 2014
Your Wishes in Your Words
A Minneapolis Estate Planning Attorney Explains Why Extra Communication with Your Loved Ones Is Helpful
During the estate planning process, your attorney will draft a number of legal documents such as a will, trust and power of attorney which will help you accomplish your goals. While these legal documents are required for effective planning, they may not sufficiently convey your thoughts and wishes to your loved ones in your own words. A letter of instruction is a great compliment to your “formal” estate plan, allowing you to outline your wishes with your own voice.
This letter of instruction is typically written by you, not your attorney. Some attorneys may, however, provide you with forms or other documents that can be helpful in composing your letter of instruction. Whether your call this a "letter of instruction" or something else, such a document is a non-binding document that will be helpful to your family or other loved ones.
There is no set format as to what to include in this document, though there are a number of common themes.
First, you may wish to explain, in your own words, the reasoning for your personal preferences for medical care especially near the end of life. For example, you might explain why you prefer to pass on at home, if that is possible. Although this could be included in a medical power of attorney, learning about these wishes in a personalized letter as opposed to a sterile legal document may give your loved ones greater peace of mind that they are doing the right thing when they are charged with making decisions on your behalf. You might also detail your preferences regarding a funeral, burial or cremation. These letters often include a list of friends to contact upon your death and may even have an outline of your own obituary.
You may also want to make note of the following in your letter to your loved ones:
- an updated list of your financial accounts with account numbers;
- a list of online accounts with passwords;
- a list of important legal documents and where to find them;
- a list of your life insurance and where the actual policies are located;
- where you have any safe deposit boxes and the location of any keys;
- where all car titles are located; the
- names of your CPA, attorney, banker, insurance advisor and financial advisor;
- your birth certificate, marriage license and military discharge papers;
- your social security number and card;
- any divorce papers; copies of real estate deeds and mortgages;
- names, addresses, and phone numbers of all children, grandchildren, or other named beneficiaries.
In drafting your letter, you simply need to think about what information might be important to those that would be in charge of your affairs upon your death. This document should be consistent with your legal documents and updated from time to time.
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From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents estate planning and elder law clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park. The Minnesota law firm of Unique Estate Law focuses on all aspects of estate planning, including specialized wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives for married couples, young families, blended families, single parents, gay families and those going through a divorce. Unique Estate Law also handles probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, elder law, business succession planning, adoptions and cabin planning.