Wills   |   Trusts   |   Probate  

Main Office
3140 Harbor Lane
Suite 201
Plymouth, MN  55447
(763) 548-9734

Chanhassen Office
470 West 78th Street
Suite 104
Chanhassen, MN 55317
(763) 548-9734


Estate Planning Basics

The Process

At our firm, a two meeting process is used.  At the first meeting, you will meet with Bridget.  She will educate you about the law relating to Minnesota wills, trusts and the probate process.  She will listen to your planning goals and concerns and gather detailed information about your family and your assets.  By the end of the first meeting, Bridget will recommend a specific estate plan and quote you a flat fee for the legal service. During the second meeting, you will review your documents in detail with Bridget to ensure accuracy and that your goals are being met.  We will then help you properly sign your documents and help with updating your beneficiary designations.  After you sign your documents, we are available to answer any future questions that you may have. We also reach out to our clients at the start of each year and offer a complimentary review of your estate planning documents.

What is Probate and why would you want to avoid it?
If a person has over $75,000.00 of assets in his or her name alone at the time of death the estate will need to go through probate.  Probate is the legal process in which a court oversees the distribution of property left by the decedent.  There can be disadvantages to having your estate go through probate.  These include

  1. Cost of Administration.  Probate can be expensive to your family.
  2. Delays in handling assets and obtaining distribution of assets.  Probate takes a minimum of four months, but typically last much longer.
  3. Lack of Privacy.  Probate is a matter of public record.  Your will would be filed with the court and viewable to the public.


What is a Will?

A will is a formal expression of a person’s intent set forth in a manner required by law.  In your will, you name a personal representative to administer your estate when you die, indicate how you want your assets to pass, including any specific gifts you wish to make, and can also name a guardian if you have minor children.  For many clients, a will with a contingent trust is a desired planning option.  A contingent trust allows you to name a trustee to manage the funds for a minor child.  You can designate an age (or ages) that you would like assets distributed directly to your child, such as ½ at age 25 and the balance at age 30.  While the assets are held in trust, your child may request distributions from the trustee you have named for needs such as health or education.


What is a Living Trust?

If you want to avoid probate, a living trust may be a good option for you. A living trust is a written agreement between the creator of the trust (the “settlor”) and the person who is going to manage the trust (the “trustee”). As the creator of the trust, you are named as the initial trustee. If you become incapacitated or are unable to manage your own financial affairs, a successor trustee, who you nominate in the trust document, can step in and manage your assets on your behalf, thereby avoiding a conservatorship or guardianship procedure.   The advantages of a living trust include avoiding probate, maintaining privacy because the trust does not need to be filed or recorded, and flexibility to change or revoke the trust. 


What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that is only valid during your lifetime, and covers legal and financial decisions.  This document allows you to name one or more agents to make decisions on your behalf.  This document is especially useful if you become incapacitated or incompetent. 


What is a Health Care Directive?

The health care directive is effective when you are unable to communicate a decision about your own healthcare.  In it, you may designate a health care agent to make decisions on your behalf.  You may also direct the type of care that you want and do not want, where you would like to have care administered, and who you would like to administer care.  You may express your wishes about organ donation or burial or cremation.  You may also designate a health care agent to make decisions on your behalf. 



The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.
You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.