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Estate Planning FAQ

Feb. 8, 2023

Business meeting of real estate broker, Business meeting working with new startup project. The perfect time to consider estate planning is now. Waiting until tomorrow to create an estate plan may be too late. Nevertheless, it might be tough to figure out where to begin. Getting the guidance of an estate planning attorney will help protect your future, assets, and your family and loved ones’ futures.  

No matter your questions, I can guide you to the answers. Here are some frequently asked questions about estate planning: 

How Do I Start Estate Planning? 

The best place to start is by contacting a professional estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can lay out the various options in planning an estate. Most importantly, they can help you design a tailor-made estate plan focused on the your specific needs and wishes. 

Do I Need a Will? 

In short, yes. Everyone needs a will. Dying intestate (passing away without a will) can leave behind a series of legal challenges for the deceased’s loved ones. In particular, asset distribution must go through a process called probate. In probate, the court decides who receives assets based on succession order and rights. 

What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust? 

A will is a public document that states a person’s last wishes and end-of-life arrangements, including asset distribution. A will does not require an attorney’s intervention. However, seeking legal counsel before drafting a will is highly recommended. Wills, such as a living will, can include provisions such as advanced healthcare directives and assigned power of attorney. Please note that wills must go through probate since they are open to challenges. 

A trust is a private document focused specifically on asset distribution and ownership transfer. Folks in Blaine, Minnesota, can place property in a trust. However, once the property goes into a trust, the owner relinquishes their rights over the property. The beneficiaries can claim the property once the trust’s conditions have been met. 

There are two main types of trusts. A revocable trust means that it can be modified. An irrevocable trust means that it cannot be modified. 

What Is Probate and Should It Be Avoided? 

Probate is a standard procedure in which the court determines who receives property when someone dies. Probate itself is not a bad thing. However, when someone dies intestate, it can leave certain beneficiaries without rights to the deceased party’s estate. Additionally, probate can become a lengthy and expensive process when there are challenges. Therefore, beneficiaries may have to wait a long time before they receive the property if any. 

What Do I Do After the Death of a Family Member? 

Besides end-of-life arrangements such as the funeral and burial arrangements, contacting a trusted estate planning attorney is a good rule of thumb. An estate planning attorney can advise family members about how to proceed.  

If there is a will, an attorney will contact the estate administrator to begin the legal proceedings. If there is a trust (or trusts), the attorney will contact the named executor to begin the legal proceedings. 

Above all, contacting a trusted attorney helps relieve some of the difficult burdens that come with losing a loved one. 

What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)? 

A power of attorney is a document that grants the named person the right to make decisions on behalf of the grantor. Anyone can be given the power of attorney. However, I advise my clients to pick a trusted attorney or a close relative, such as a spouse or adult children. 

Folks use a POA to transfer authority to make end-of-life decisions. A POA is also useful when the grantor becomes incapacitated due to illness or injury. The named person can then make decisions on the grantor’s behalf, including financial ones. 

Can I Draft a Will by Myself? 

Yes, you can draft a will by yourself. However, drafting a will by yourself can be a tricky endeavor. There are various free online tools allowing you to draft a will. The catch is that drafting a will without the right legal counsel may open the door to legal trouble down the road. That is why I always recommend my clients to have a trusted attorney look over a will they have drafted by themselves. 

Do I Need an Attorney to Create My Estate Plan? 

No, hiring an estate planning attorney is not necessary to create one. However, it is highly recommended to enlist the right legal counsel. There are various issues to consider, such as taxes, rights, and creditors to consider when drafting an estate plan. Ultimately, hiring an estate planning attorney is an investment in peace of mind. 

Protect Your Future, Assets, and Loved Ones 

At the Law Office of Robert J. Everhart, PLC, we proudly serve folks in Blaine, Minnesota, and neighboring areas such as Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and Sherburne County. We understand the importance of protecting your future, assets, and loved ones.  

We will go the extra mile to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after your passing. Invest in peace of mind knowing your loved ones are protected, and take those first steps by contacting us today.