Minnesota Estate Planning | Three Estate Planning Tools Everyone Should Have

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on April 22, 2014

Minnesota Living TrustThe Wall Street Journal recently published an article concerning the most important estate planning documents that everyone should have prepared.

The author of the piece noted how when many people hear the phrase “estate planning” they imagine wealthy oil tycoons and contentious probate battles, wrongly believing they don’t need to concern themselves with such matters.

The reality is that advance planning goes a long way to making things easier for everyone, regardless of age or income. It’s never too early to start getting your ducks in a row, something that should give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed and that a burden from your family will be lifted.

So what are the most important documents discussed in the Wall Street Journal article? Keep reading to find out.

Minnesota Estate Planning:  the Will

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first thing listed is a will. Though wills may seem only useful for those with complicated or large estates, the reality is that everyone can benefit from having a will. Wills ensure that your wishes are carried out with as little confusion or disagreement as possible. Wills are also great tools because they guarantee that you control the fate of your assets rather than leaving their disposition up to a judge in a Minnesota probate court who knows little or anything about you and your family.

Designating someone to serve as executor of your estate and crafting a basic outline for how you want your possessions distributed are the two most important things to include in a will. It’s also crucial to consult with an experienced Minnesota estate planning attorney to help rather than rely on a cheap but generic online resource.  As the WSJ article notes, online sources can often overlook small details that end up being important later on and can result in invalid wills.

Minnesota Estate Planning: Power of Attorney

This is one of the most overlooked estate planning documents by many people but an important one. A power of attorney is a document that empowers another person to act as your agent and make both legal and financial decisions should you become incapacitated and unable to act on your own. This is a very important decision given the power this person will have over your life and affairs and should only be made after very careful consideration. Naming your spouse is a common choice, but experts warn that having a backup is a good idea in case your spouse predeceases you.

Minnesota Estate Planning: Health Care Directive

A Minnesota health care directive functions much like a power of attorney except that it involves medical matters. This document allows another person to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Though spouses are again popular choices, it may not be best if you think your spouse does not hold up well under such stress or won’t be able to make the kind of tough choices you ultimately want to be made.

In addition to your ability to name someone to serve as your medical proxy in the case of incapacity, a Minnesota health care directive also allows you to lay out a living will, which discusses specific health situations and what your wishes are in each case. The document serves as a guide to your health much like a will does with your assets, advising your family and doctors of your wishes regarding your care during a time when you may not be able to communicate.

Though it may be confusing, creating an effective estate plan does not have to be an overly complicated process. An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the process of establishing or updating a will or trust. 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: “Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have,” by Tom Lauricella, published at WSJ.com.


See Our Related Blog Posts:

Minnesota Estate Planning: What A Will Won’t Do

The Importance Of A Will In Minnesota


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