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Minnesota Estate Planning Attorneys

How to Draft a Will and Trust, Establish Power of Attorney, and More

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and planning for 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 generation.

While you may find estate planning daunting or even uncomfortable, it plays a vital role in helping you protect and pass down assets onto friends, family, and loved ones.

At Johnson/Turner Legal, we understand that when you turn to us for estate planning, you're putting your legacy in our hands. It's a responsibility we don't take lightly.

We assign a Minnesota estate planning lawyer, two paralegals, a client engagement specialist, and a life coach to every estate planning case to make sure you get a variety of legal perspectives.

Set up a consultation to learn more about how we can guide you through the estate planning process. Contact us online or via phone at (651) 371-9117 today! We have offices in Forest Lake, Blaine, Lake Elmo, Wayzata, and Woodbury, serving all of Minnesota.

Preserving Your Legacy for Future Generations: The Johnson/Turner Legal Difference

At Johnson/Turner Legal, our experience in estate planning has allowed us to identify common interests people often share during the estate planning process. We use these interests to help you answer questions and identify how to proceed with your estate plan.

We ask every client about the following topics:

  1. Trust. Who do you trust and why?
  2. Conflict. Do you anticipate conflict among your family/heirs?
  3. Legacy. What values and beliefs do you wish to pass on?
  4. Worries. What are your biggest worries when you are gone?
  5. Guardian. Who should take care of your kids if you are not able or around?
  6. Life vision. What is your vision for your life, and what are you doing to achieve it?

How you answer these questions determines how we proceed with the estate planning process moving forward. For example, if you worry that there may be conflict among your family/heirs when you pass, we'll work with you to create airtight trusts and wills and ensure that your assets and property are appropriately divided among your family (or other beneficiaries). If you have anxiety about your life goals or worries about the future, our life coach will work with you to address those issues and reclaim control of your life.

Estate planning is a complex, multi-faceted process. Every good estate plan encompasses five essential elements.

What Can an Estate Plan Do for Me?

No family or person is the same, so no estate plans are the same. But through our years of creating precise and thoughtful estate plans, we’ve been able to identify some key features that apply to most people, and we’ve shaped them into plans that address some of the common estate-planning goals we’ve seen.

We’ll help you plan for the future of your estate, including some, all of, or even more than what’s listed here.

  • Identify a person to act on your behalf for financial and health care concerns if you can’t.
  • Avoid probate.
  • Establish accounts to pay final expenses or debts.
  • Protect your assets from end-of-life expenses.
  • Define what you want your beneficiaries to receive, and protect those who might need help managing those assets.
  • Reduce or eliminate estate taxes.
  • Plan for business succession or the future of a family cabin.
  • Minimize conflict and maintain privacy.
  • Address the needs of a blended family

The Will

When most people hear the phrase "estate planning," they immediately think of wills. Every individual over the age of 18 should have a will to help them decide how property and assets will be divided among friends, family members, and loved ones should they pass on or become mentally incapacitated.

Without a will, your estate will be decided based on state law. That means Minnesota state officials will decide:

  • who raises your children,
  • where your assets go, and
  • who inherits your personal belongings.

A will allows you to take control of the process. With a will, you get to make the following decisions:

  • Designate guardians to raise and look after your children;
  • Appoint a Personal Representative who will ensure your will gets followed to the letter, and your assets are appropriately distributed;
  • Ensure specific beneficiaries inherit certain assets or property;
  • Omit certain family members from your will if you wish to do so;
  • Include specifications for charitable gifts within your will;
  • Include stipulations to help avoid the probate process (which can save your beneficiaries time and emotional turmoil);
  • Minimize estate taxes.

To draft a will in Minnesota, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years-old or older;
  • The will must be in writing (a typed will is always preferable to a holographic, or hand-written, will);
  • You must sign the will, along with at least two other witnesses, such as an attorney or conservator; and
  • You must clarify that you intend for the document to operate as a will.

An experienced estate planning lawyer in Minnesota can help you draft a comprehensive, secure will that accurately distributes your assets. Importantly, a Minnesota estate planning attorney can also help you modify an existing will if circumstances change, and you wish to update your will.

You should keep your will in a secure place. In Minnesota, many court administrators will hold a will for little to no expense. Your attorney may also be willing to safeguard your will for you. Be sure to let multiple people know who has your will.

The Trust

Trusts are often overlooked in the estate planning process, but they can be a fantastic way to preserve and distribute assets. Living trusts allow you to determine how assets are distributed and place those resources in the care of a trustee, who will hold them until a specified event occurs. For example, you can use a trust to set aside money for your child and specify that once your child turns 25, they get access to the trust fund.

You can create a non-revocable trust, which immediately removes assets from your ownership and places them under the care of the trustee, or a revocable trust that you can still alter throughout your life. While it might seem like a revocable trust is an obvious choice, irrevocable trusts have their benefits. For example, if you need to file for bankruptcy, assets in an irrevocable trust might be exempt from the bankruptcy process.

Some benefits of a trust include:

  • Trusts can enable you to avoid the probate process entirely;
  • You have more control over how assets are distributed to beneficiaries;
  • You can avoid estate taxes; and
  • A trust can go into effect if you are incapacitated, whereas a will might only be effective once you die.

Many people think trusts and wills are an "either-or," but in truth, they work best together as complementary elements in an estate plan. A trust enables you to have control over assets during your life that a will can't provide, but a will might be a more effective tool post-death. Your estate planning attorney in Minnesota can help you draft a legally binding trust when they help you develop and enact your will.

The Health Care Directive

The health care directive establishes what types of care you receive should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.

In a health care directive, you appoint one or more Health Care Agents and a Successor Agent to make medical decisions and carry out any last wishes you have. Importantly, the health care directive waives HIPPA restrictions, allowing medical professionals to provide your Health Care Agent with information that would normally be restricted.

A health care directive helps ensure that you have the best possible quality of life if you become incapacitated and that your last wishes are faithfully observed and carried out.

The Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney grants another person the right to act on your behalf on legal and/or financial matters. For example, Power of Attorney documents allow you to specify who takes care of your bills if you become incapacitated, or who makes financial decisions if you're unable to.

Like a health care directive, you can appoint one or more Agents to have Power of Attorney. Power of Attorney goes into effect as soon as you lack the capacity to make decisions, and expires upon death.

The Transfer on Death Deed (TODD)

A transfer on death deed is a legal document you execute that specifies a beneficiary to inherit your property from you after death. A TODD can allow you to circumvent the probate process entirely.

In probate, your beneficiaries must take your will to court to prove it is valid. Probate is often an arduous process, particularly when bad actors try and discredit the will or drag out the process. Using documents like a trust and a TODD can help you avoid the probate process entirely, ensuring things go smoothly if you're incapacitated or pass on.

A Note About Elder Law

At Johnson/Turner Legal, we're proud to offer comprehensive elder law services. While some parts of estate planning also apply to elder law, certain processes—such as helping an elderly person obtain Medicaid—are unique to elder law. To learn more about elder law, please visit our Elder Law page.

At Johnson/Turner Legal, our team of Minnesota estate planning lawyers will do whatever we can to help you preserve your legacy. Our flat-fee pricing model provides our clients with absolute transparency, so you can feel confident moving forward with your estate planning case.

Schedule a consultation with our firm. Contact us online or via phone at (651) 371-9117.

Our Purpose Statement

“To build trust and provide comfort to our clients and legal professionals by reinventing the delivery of legal services.”

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    We strive to ensure that our attorneys and staff are fully versed in their practice areas to provide our clients the best advice and representation. The knowledge necessary to do so includes not only mastering the letter of the law, but also understanding trends in the interpretation and application of the law. We are life long learners who know there will never come a day when we have all the answers. We nurture and rely on our strong network of relationships within the firm and beyond. We study; we reflect; we converse; and we challenge one another. Our depth of knowledge sets us apart.

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