Minnesota Wills | The Dangers Of Estate Planning On Your Own

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on August 9, 2017

Minnesota Wills and TrustsMany people understand the importance of creating an estate plan and the risks that can come from failing to do so. In an attempt to get their ducks in a row, some might decide to try a DIY approach, going online and paying some internet legal document creation company for a template will, trust or power of attorney.

Though the desire to save money by doing things yourself is understandable, it’s important to know that this can end up causing trouble and even costing more money down the road than if youd hired a skilled professional estate planning attorney from the start. This is especially true for those with significant assets or complicated estates. To better understand when DIY is a bad idea, keep reading.


Doing an estate plan on your own can make sense in certain cases. If you’re single, if you haven’t been previously married, if you don’t have many assets, if you don’t need a trust and if you don’t have children that need to be specially provided for you may not have a very complicated estate. However, this doesn’t work for many people who often have one or more of the above-mentioned factors at play.

Can you live with risk?

This may seem like a funny question, but it’s a very important one. If you decide to go ahead and create a plan on your own, are you the kind of person who is able to live with the risk that you might have forgotten something? For some people, the fear that they’ve left something (or someone) important out would be a serious problem. By hiring a professional estate planning attorney, you’re paying for quality work and for the assurance that all the issues have been covered. You know that what you’re getting is right and isn’t likely to be picked apart after you’re gone. The same might not be true of a plan you put together yourself and you have to decide if that’s something you can accept.

Is there likely to be a legal battle?

This is another question that few people ask themselves, but many more should. If you are creating a will that’s straightforward and isn’t likely to be seen as controversial, there’s likely little risk of a legal dispute and it may be possible to get away with doing things on your own. If, on the other hand, you’re giving a large amount of money to a charity, instead of your kids, or if you’re giving money to some family members, but not others, you should be prepared for a battle to ensue. In these kinds of cases it becomes highly likely that there will be a legal challenge and it is more important than ever that the documents be drafted perfectly. In litigious circumstances, turning to a professional is key to ensure that your wishes are enforced.

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: “DIY Estate Planning Has Its Risks,” by Cheryl Winokur Munk, published at WSJ.com.



Minnesota Revocable Trusts | Trust Law

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on June 29, 2017

Minnesota Revocable TrustThere are all kinds of trusts floating around out in the world: revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts, asset protection trusts, constructive trusts, etc., etc. With so many options, it can be hard to understand which is which and what one or ones are worth considering given your particular circumstances. Though we wont cover them all today, lets start with one of the less-well-understood funds, known as a testamentary trust.

What is a testamentary trust?

No better place to start than with a definition. So what is a testamentary trust? Its a trust that is created and contained within a persons last will and testament (hence the testamentary). Testamentary trusts exist to provide for the distribution of parts (or all) of a persons estate, often involving proceeds from a life insurance policy. A will may contain multiple testamentary trusts, there is no rule that requires limiting the number to just one.

How do you create a testamentary trust?

Testamentary estates are fairly easy to create and can be cheaper alternatives to revocable trusts. A testamentary trust is written into a persons last will and must appoint a trustee who is tasked with managing any assets or funds contained within the trust until the beneficiary takes control and receives the property distribution. Because the testamentary trust is laid out in a last will, its up to the executor to actually create the trust. This obviously differs from other trusts, which are created while the grantor is still alive.

Do testamentary trusts avoid probate?

One common reason that some people create trusts is to avoid the probate process. So do testamentary trusts succeed at avoiding probate? Unfortunately, no. Testamentary trusts must pass through the probate system because they are created by the executor of the grantors estate. After passing away, the persons last will and testament will be probated and the executor will then create the trust, placing whatever assets are required into the trust to be administered on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Are testamentary trusts revocable?

Testamentary trusts are revocable, but only before the person who inserted the testamentary trust into his or her will passes away. Before that point, all the person has to do is rewrite the will, either changing the assets or beneficiaries of the trust or eliminating it entirely. However, if this revision gets put off and the will is never changed, then the trust will be created as outlined in the latest version of the will. Something worth keeping in mind.

Why create a testamentary trust?

What are the reasons in favor of considering a testamentary trust? There are a few. First off, testamentary trusts can be very useful for those who want to leave assets to a beneficiary, but are concerned about the beneficiary receiving the assets before some specified time. Testamentary trusts are created and then governed by a trustee, keeping the heirs from wasting money. This can be useful for those with young children or beneficiaries with special needs who need to be looked after rather than given lump sums of money immediately following the grantors death. This is why testamentary trusts are sometimes referred to as a child’s trust.

Testamentary trusts are also easy to create and cheap, important attributes worth taking into account. Beyond their general ease of use, testamentary trusts are also useful in that they can protect the assets themselves, shielding them from claims by creditors and others. In the end, testamentary trusts are one of many different kinds of trusts and other estate planning tools that can be used to achieve your specific objectives.

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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