There are many important considerations when making an estate plan. An estate plan can provide you with the opportunity to create stability and structure for your friends and family both before and after you pass away. There are a variety of instruments that can be included in your estate plan. Two of the most common are a last will and testament and a trust. With a trust, assets are transferred to the trust and those assets will pass outside of probate. In other words, while your other assets must go through the probate process, any property in the trust will pass according to the provisions in the trust documents. This saves a lot of time and can also be an important way to save money and reduce your liability for estate taxes. However, even if you have set up a trust or even several trusts, you still need a will.
Trusts are very useful to transfer very specific property. For example, you can use a trust to transfer ownership of your vacation home or of specific types of firearms. In the trust documents, you will have to specifically identify any property that is to be transferred to the trust. Anything no specifically identified will remain as part of your estate, which, in most cases, will need to go through probate. If you do not have a last will and testament, any property that is part of the estate will pass according to the Minnesota laws of intestacy. Intestacy laws identify specific relatives who will inherit your estate and in what proportions. The laws of intestacy give no weight to what may have been the actual preference of the deceased. So, for example, if your intention was to make sure your best friend receives specific items of personal property, without a will, your best friend will not inherit anything from your estate, let alone specific items.
Another important reason to have a will even if you have created a trust is to provide guidance regarding the guardianship of any minor children. In a last will and testament, you can identify particular people who you would prefer act as your children’s guardian if you die before they have reached the age of majority. A last will and treatment cannot absolutely force a court to place the children with your named guardian, but it can provide the court with direction as to what may be in the children’s best interest.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with selecting the right estate plan to meet their needs. Call us today at 651-413-9568 and schedule a consultation.