A Guide to Estate Planning in Minnesota
While an estate plan addresses concerns after you're gone, it doesn't outline what happens if you're unable to manage your own affairs while you're still alive. Learn more about our elder law and estate planning services offered at Johnson / Turner Legal, so we can help you in any stage of life.
How Does Estate Planning Work?
In general, estate planning arranges important medical, financial, and legal choices that need to be made as one generation passes from this life and transfers their accrued wisdom, property, and wishes to the next. Simply put: estate planning can help you plan for what happens to your assets and property after you pass away. This can be done at any age and can be edited at any time.
Estate planning typically includes drafting your:
- Power of Attorney
- Transfer on Death Deeds (DoDs)
What is Elder Law?
An elder lawyer can help you or your loved one navigate the unique legal issues that come with old age more easily. Though this includes tasks such as drafting a will and testament and planning your estate, elder law specifically focuses on senior citizens and their estates. Estate planning, in contrast, can be beneficial for any person at any stage in life.
Do I Need An Elder Law Attorney?
You should consider hiring an attorney experienced in elder law if:
- You are a senior citizen without an estate plan.
- You are a senior citizen confused about how to handle Social Security benefits.
- You are a senior citizen confused about how to handle Medicaid benefits.
- You are a senior citizen that needs help with a long-term plan.
- You are a loved one of a senior citizen that needs help securing benefits.
- You are a loved one of a senior citizen concerned about elder abuse.
The Probate Process in Minnesota
If a family member passes without a will, entering into probate may be the best way to secure their assets properly depending on their estate plan. Here’s how our team can help.
What is Probate?
In Minnesota, probate is a legal process commonly used to settle the estate of a loved one that passed, called the "decedent." Probate is required when a person who passed had at least $50,000 in personal property and owned real estate in their name. During probate, the court will appoint a personal representative to look after the estate.
What Does a Personal Representative Do?
A personal representative is legally responsible for administering the estate of your loved one during probate, and they are also obligated to carry out other responsibilities, including:
- Finding and noting your family member's assets.
- Paying off any debts or outstanding bills.
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries.
- Closing out the estate once it's settled.
If your loved one named a personal representative to probate their will, they must oversee the legal process. If your loved one didn't name a personal representative or did not leave a will, the court will appoint a representative to oversee the case.
How Long Does the Probate Process Take?
Probate can take up to a year before your case gets settled by the Minnesota family court. However, the length of a probate case varies based on your circumstances, and if the probate is formal or informal. Either way, legal documents need to be filed and processed with the court, which can take time.
Formal Probate Process
A supervised and unsupervised formal probate will involve a court case. Formal probate can be an option if you have issues that need to be resolved with the help of a judge. Reasons for formal probate include:
- Parties disagree.
- There are questions about the validity of the will.
- The will includes real estate property.
The court will also appoint a representative who will be responsible for settling the estate.
Informal Probate Process
Probate proceedings can be informal when beneficiaries get along and have no problems resolving their inheritance. Informal probate is an easier process and most probate proceedings in Minnesota are informal.
If you’re interested in the estate and you initiate the probate process, you would need to initiate formal probate, not informal probate.
While this process may seem daunting, seeking legal help can make it easier for you and your family. An experienced family law attorney can assist your family's representative with the steps they need to take to allocate your loved one's assets in court.
How a Minnesota Probate Attorney Can Help
At Johnson / Turner Legal, we believe that everyone deserves to live out their golden years with grace — whether you’re currently 30 or 90. As the saying goes, "age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
We help our elderly clients feel empowered to live life to the fullest. For help with estate planning or elder law issues, contact our team today.