Ten Families That Really Need A Minnesota Trust

Late night talk show host David Letterman gives his Top Ten list every show. I’d like to suggest to you my own Top Ten list, about ten families who need to set up a trust to protect their assets in the case of disability or death of one of their family members. A trust can be a wonderful device for your family even if your family has just one or two of these circumstances.

10. Family number ten is the family that owns real estate in another state. When the family’s owner of that property dies, you will usually be looking at a probate proceeding both in that state (such as Florida, Arizona or North Dakota) as well as a probate in Minnesota. A family trust can avoid a probate proceeding in both states.

9. Family number nine are the families who have a family member that is physically or mentally disabled. A trust can provide care for that family member long after Mom or Dad has passed away. What’s more, if the disabled person is receiving public assistance, a special needs trust can provide financial help to the disabled person without jeopardizing his or her public assistance benefits.

8. Family number eight is the family that has one or more spouses who are not financially sophisticated. If Dad or Mom was making most of the financial decisions while they are both alive, it’s important that the survivor between the two of them will be able to continue to live in the family home in the lifestyle that they are used to. A trust can help make this a reality.

7. Family number seven is the family where a member is not married to his or her significant other. Many people that have experienced a divorce are reluctant to formally tie the knot. If they buy a house, have children or accumulate other assets with their significant other, a trust for them or the family may be a good idea.

6. Family number six is the family with a child or grandchild who can’t control his spending. We’ve all seen a young person (or even an older person) who is always short of money and often engages in unwise spending. Sometimes the spending is on drugs or gambling. A trust can provide what we call “spendthrift” provisions that can help protect the imprudent child from himself and his reckless spending habits.

5. Family number five is the family with a member who is gay or lesbian. The Minnesota Law of wills and intestates is slanted in favor of straight persons. A gay or lesbian person needs a trust and other estate planning to protect himself or herself and their partner that will level the playing field. A trust can help provide disability instructions and inheritance provisions that assure that the planning wishes of the gay person are carried out.

4. Family number four is the family where Mom or Dad might not die at the same time. What this means is that the surviving parent may remarry after the other spouse dies. The new stepfather or stepmother may take the inheritance to which the children of Mom or Dad would otherwise be entitled. A well-drafted trust can deal with this very common situation.

3. Family number three is the family who has assets over $200,000. The size of the estate is not always a guide to whether or not to have a trust. However, when the assets are sizeable, the temptations for even upright or religious families can be intense. Possible financial abuse of the parent or the estate becomes more likely. A good trust will reduce the temptations and provide a sensible roadway for handling the assets. A trust can thus promote family harmony.

2. Family number two is the family where either spouse has children by a prior marriage. Remember Cinderella? Her Father married her stepmother who hated Cinderella. The Grimm Brothers told that tale because from the beginning of time, there has almost always been hostility between children of a first marriage and their stepmother or stepfather. A trust can address these tensions and provide a roadmap that clarifies the inheritance between children and their step-parent.

1. The most common family circumstance is the family that wants to avoid probate proceedings after the death of the parent. Probate can be expensive, stressful and uncertain. What’s more, probate proceedings reveal private family information. A trust can avoid probate and all the loss of time, peace of mind, expense and privacy.

There you have the ten families that need a trust. Does one or more of them describe your family’s situation?

Posted in |

DIY Estate Planning: Savvy Money Saving Tool or Disaster in Disguise?

As the recession deepens, more Americans are trading high priced attorneys for DIY estate planning kits online. Yet despite the appealing cost, do online estate planning kits really have what it takes to protect your children, assets or wishes should something happen to you? An Atlanta estate planning attorney cuts through the hype to reveal when you can go it alone and when DIY planning is a financial disaster in disguise.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Who needs a $300 an hour estate planning lawyer when you can buy an entire DIY will kit online for under $100?

That’s the question most Americans find themselves asking lately, as the creation of computer generated wills, trusts and other estate planning documents make DIY planning seem like a very budget-savvy choice.

Yet do these documents really hold weight in the Georgia probate courts and will they truly protect your children, assets or wishes should the unthinkable happen?

It depends. Certainly someone with no children and assets under $100,000 could possibly benefit from DIY estate planning. The real problem, though, is that you don’t know what you don’t know and like anything in life, one size rarely fits all. In the case of estate planning, one simple mistake can cost your family thousands of dollars and years of headaches if death or incapacity unexpectedly occurs.

So what situations warrant meeting with a qualified estate planning professional over a budget-friendly kit online? Consider the following:

1. You’ve been divorced or remarried– DIY kits rarely take into account the complexities of divorce, remarriage or having children from a previous marriage. Without proper guidance, a mistake in this area could cause a number of problems, including a spouse losing out financially to a child from a previous marriage (as was the case with Ana Nicole Smith) or the disinheritance of children.

2. You have children– If you review documents from a popular online will kit you will often find boilerplate language stating that future children were disinherited under the plan. This really shows just how dangerous these kits can be for parents with minor children. DIY kits also fail to advise parents of the best way to leave an inheritance to their children, thus setting the stage for money problems down the road.

3. You’re in an alternative living situation– Gays, lesbians and life-partners should always meet with a qualified professional when planning for their death or incapacity. Unfortunately, the laws are not on the side of people in non-traditional relationships, so you should always get professional guidance to ensure your family stays protected physically and financially should tragedy strike..

4. You have a special needs child– Parents of special needs children must be extremely cautious when using DIY estate planning kits online. Many parents fail to realize that leaving money outright to a special needs child can jeopardize their ability to qualify for Medicaid or other benefits in the future. Such kits fail to properly advise parents of guardianship issues and other ways to make sure their child is properly cared for in their absence.

It only takes one tiny oversight in a DIY estate plan to cause the entire thing to backfire, or even become null and void in Georgia or in other states. And of course, by the time people realize such a problem exist, it’s often too late to go back or costs a fortune to fix. Being a DIY’er is fine, but recognize your limitations. And when it comes protecting your assets, wishes and your children do the same and seek the counsel of a professional lawyer that can guide them through the process.

Posted in |

Estate Planning Lawyers Protect A Client’s Property From Becoming State Property

Devising a plan as for how assets should be distributed in the event of a death is something that most people have given thought to, but not everybody has carried out. There are common misconceptions regarding this important aspect of preparing for the inevitable, and among them is the idea that most people do not have enough assets or property to constitute an entire estate.

This doesn’t have to include lavish homes, large sums of money or ownership rights to profitable business ventures. Anything of value must be considered, whether it’s land, antiques, jewelry or rare collections. For those who wish to pass their cherished possessions onto their loved ones, hiring estate planning lawyers to devise a living trust or will can be the best way to ensure that final wishes are carried out. Estate attorneys devise plans that are used to properly acquire, protect and allocate physical and liquid assets that are to be inherited, per the request of the testator.

Why Do Estate Attorneys Draft Wills And Trusts?

When it comes to planning, attorneys can guide clients through the legal process of drafting documents that state which beneficiaries will inherit specific possessions, and how much each beneficiary is entitled to. There are two methods that estate planning lawyers use to protect their clients, their assets and their loved ones: living trusts and wills.

Trusts and Wills are drafted by an attorney that specializes in elder law, where they take the instructions specified by their client and create a legally binding document that ensures that their assets are divided in ways that they consider fair and just.

Trusts and Wills can be viewed as legal documents that complement one another. A Trust is used for planning purposes and serves to dictate how property and valuables will be distributed, with the Will being used to cover any property or assets that are not contained within a Trust. Wills and Trusts should be updated regularly as to reflect changes within the law. This small step is a very important requirement for protecting these documents from being disputed later on.

What Happens Without A Will Or Trust?

In the event that someone dies without drafting a Will or Trust, they are considered to have died intestate. When this happens, the state gains control of any possessions that belong to the deceased person and reserves the right to distribute them in ways that they consider to be appropriate. The most common scenario includes property and assets being divided amongst blood relatives. In addition to physical property, the state also makes the determination regarding the placement of any minor children.

In the absence of a Will or Trust, many would-be beneficiaries are left without an inheritance. In addition to having little to no legal grounds for recourse, the amount of energy and financial assistance to successfully appeal a state-mandated division of assets leave many people with no options when it comes to collecting their promised share of an inheritance.

Hiring estate planning lawyers to draft a Trust or Will is the best way for individuals to guarantee that their final wishes are carried out. In addition to specializing in elder law issues, estate planning lawyers have the experience and knowledge that is necessary for protecting their clients within the legal system.

Posted in |