Estate Planning in Minnesota | Different ways of dividing property

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on April 26, 2017

Minnesota Estate PlanningIf you’re preparing to create an estate plan, you might think it’s all pretty straightforward. Simply write down a list of names and you’re done. Once you’re gone, those named heirs will receive their designated items, no muss, no fuss.

Though possible, things seldom go so smoothly. Instead, life intervenes and can disrupt your supposedly straightforward estate plan. The best way to counter this uncertainty is to be prepared by crafting a detailed plan. Rather than work in generalities, you and your estate planning attorney will sit down and come up with a plan that’s detailed and designed to anticipate trouble.

One aspect of such a detailed plan that’s worth spending time on concerns the ways in which property can be divided. Unsurprisingly, there’s more to it than just writing down a list of names. To help make things simpler, let’s consider a scenario in which a woman has created an estate plan and would like to divide her estate between her three children: two sons and a daughter. One son had only one child, her other son had two children and the daughter had none.

Now let’s imagine that before she passed away, both of her sons predecease her, leaving only her daughter and three grandchildren. To learn more about how her remaining assets might be divided, keep reading.

Estate Planning in Minnesota | Per capita

Per capita means “by total head count”. In the estate planning world, this means that all living beneficiaries should share distribution equally. However, if a beneficiary is deceased, then his or her share won’t be created and will instead pass to the remaining living beneficiaries. Under a per capita approach to property distribution, the daughter would inherit 100% of her mother’s estate. The sons, who are both dead, would receive nothing and neither would their children.

Minnesota Property Division | Per stirpes

Per stirpes means “by class”. In the context of Minnesota estate planning, this means that beneficiaries who are closest to the person distributing the property will receive equal shares. If, however, a member of that group is deceased, then that person’s beneficiaries will divide the share that their parent would have received. In this case, that means that the daughter would get one-third of her mother’s estate. The only child grandson would receive one-third of the estate and the other son’s two children would each receive one-sixth of the estate (the son’s share divided in half).

Per capita, at each generation

This third approach occurs in cases where heirs of the same generation receive the same amount of money. Again, let’s take a look at an example. In this case, the daughter receives one-third of the estate and the three grandchildren would equally divide the remaining two-thirds of the estate, meaning each would receive a 2/9 share. Under this option, the only child gets less than under a per stirpes approach, while the two children receive slightly more.

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyer

In the end, there isn’t a right or a wrong here, it’s whatever works best for you. It’s crucial to understand that you have the power to decide what happens to your property. If one of the options discussed above seems particularly good or particularly bad, simply take the time to work with an attorney to spell out what you want (or don’t want). An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the complicated process of establishing a workable estate plan. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

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Minnesota Estate Planning For Single People

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on March 31, 2017

Minnesota Estate Planning for Single PeopleOne of the big motivators that drives people to get their act together, at least from an estate planning perspective, is the existence of a family. Having a spouse and children to worry about is often the push most people need to step up and start tackling an issue they would normally be content to ignore.

These people worry about their husband or wife being left without sufficient financial resources or their children being left without guardians. Though these are all great reasons to get an estate plan started, what happens if you arent married? What if you dont have kids? Is there a point to estate planning if youre single? Absolutely. To learn more about estate planning for those single and without children, keep reading.

Should You Have a Will?

First, estate planning for singles is something that has become a concern for an increasing segment of the country. Today, about half of all adults in the U.S. are single, up from only 28 percent in the 1960s. The percent of adults who have never married is at 30 percent, more than twice what it was several decades ago. Similar changes are occurring when it comes to children. Fifteen percent of women in the U.S. have not had any children, a number up 50% since the 1970s. All these numbers tell a compelling story, that the concerns motivating many people to get estate plans in order (to protect their family members) may be falling on deaf ears to a growing group.

So why does estate planning matter if youre single? There are no spouses to worry about or children to care for, after all. While that may be true, there are other concerns that need to be addressed. For instance, single people are just as likely as those who are married to own assets in their own names. Single people have houses and cars and retirement funds and bank accounts. Single people also face health issues and run the risk of being incapacitated. They thus need guardians and conservators as much as anyone else. Estate planning exists to help bring structure to the distribution of a persons assets as well as creating a plan for what happens to the person in the event something goes wrong.

Single People Estate Planning

Estate planning may actually even be more important for singles. Though theres reason enough for everyone to create a plan, if youre married and dont have an estate plan in place, your spouse provides a very good automatic backup. The law kicks in and gives all assets to your spouse, making things fairly clear. Even more importantly, health care and financial decision-making authority immediately passes to your spouse. The same isnt true for single people, who will need to have a guardian and conservator appointed by a probate court and may have assets distributed automatically to people they might have preferred to exclude.

So what do singles need to do? For one thing, think through who you want to receive your property. Are there friends that you want to be sure to take care of? Your parents? Siblings? What about charities that are especially meaningful? Without children to take care of, you have a lot of freedom to decide who gets your remaining assets. You also have the freedom to decide who doesnt, another reason why estate planning is valuable. Without a plan in place, your assets would be distributed according to a predetermined process, which could allow some people (like an estranged sibling or a useless nephew) to receive a cut that you didnt intend. By creating your own plan, you can include (or exclude) whoever youd like.

Next Steps

The next thing to think about is who you want to take care of health care and financial matters when you are no longer able to do so. Without a plan, a court will have to name a guardian and conservator to make these important decisions, a process that can take time and cause unnecessary upheaval. To avoid the chaos, simply name your own choices (and backups). It could be a very close friend or parents or siblings or even distant relatives. If theres no friends or family you trust with such delicate matters, you can also reach out to professionals who act are willing to serve in this role for a fee.

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the complicated process of establishing a workable estate plan. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

 

Source: Planning for singles with no kids, by Matthew Wallace, published at TheTimesHerald.com.

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