Wills and trusts are both tools to plan for the future of your estate. During your lifetime, everything that is accumulated will become part of your estate at the time of your death. How your estate is distributed to family and loved ones is determined by your estate plan. Divorce can add an extra layer of complexity to this process so it’s important to consult with an attorney to make sure you understand the process.
An estate plan provides the legal mechanism for transferring property upon your death in a manner which recognizes your wishes and the needs of your survivors. For many people it also involves creating a plan which will take care of essential obligations and affairs in case of disability and critical personal medical choices which sometimes must be made towards the end of life. Estate planning is not merely for the prosperous, it is necessity for anyone who wishes to be taken care of in old age and ensure that loved ones are cared for once you pass.
It is possible, and often happens, that an individual dies without an estate plan. Minnesota law provides for the distribution of the estate at that time in line with family relationships; the provisions in the statute transfer property to one’s spouse first, then children, then other family if it is not fully distributed yet.
In some cases, an individual’s intent is in line with the statute. However, if you want to transfer property to an individual not in your family or make specific distributions of your assets, estate planning is necessary. Moreover, you are always able to change or revoke a will and can make sure that it always matches your intentions. Contact the Estate Planning attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers to discuss your options in planning your estate today.
Once an individual passes away, their estate must go through what is known as the probate process to distribute their assets and pay off their debts. Probate can be formal or informal, depending on how complex the issues are. There is usually some court involvement in the process.
The probate process is used whether an individual died with a will, known as testate, or if they died without a will, known as intestate. If an individual had a will, their specific intentions will be carried out. Without a will, the property will pass to family members in a way defined by Minnesota statutes. In both situations, the court will approve an individual to serve as the personal representative of the estate. This individual works closely with the attorney and the court to make sure that the estate is distributed in an appropriate manner and that assets are not squandered in the process.