Frequently Asked Questions

How much will it cost to have an estate plan prepared?

The attorney will discuss all fees and costs at your first appointment.  We have flat fee packages that are based on the complexity of the documents prepared.  For example, our simple will package includes a Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, and a Simple Will for a single person.  Our price would go up if a more complex will is necessary or if a Trust is recommended.  The attorney will discuss your needs and review assets to advise on what documents are appropriate.  If you own real estate, the attorney may recommend a deed at an additional fee and recording expense.  The attorney will go over the fee agreement with you at the first meeting so there are no surprises with your invoice.

What should I do with my Power of Attorney?

You should store your Power of Attorney in a safe place and only share it when it is needed to be used.

When does my agent need to sign my Power of Attorney?

Your agent does not have to sign your Power of Attorney until they need to use it. 

What should I do with my Health Care Directive?

You should inform others of the location of your health care directive and you can share copies with your family members, doctors and medical providers, and your agents.

Who are these random people listed on the last page of my will? I do not know them… will these individuals receive something from my estate if their names appear in my will?

In the State of Minnesota, there are only a few requirements to make a valid will: (1) You must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind; (2) the will must be in writing and you must intend for the document to operate as your will; (3) the will must be signed by you (or by another person at your direction and in your presence); and (4) the will must be witnessed by at least two people over the age of 18 years of age, who must both sign the will.

The individuals listed on the last page of your will are staff from our office who will act as your (independent) witnesses to satisfy one of the requirements to make your will valid in the State of Minnesota. They are solely witnessing your signature and attesting to the fact that you signed the will voluntarily, were of sound mind, and you were not being unduly influenced by someone else to sign your will. The witnesses do not receive any portion of your estate just because they have witnessed your will.

Does a will avoid probate?

No. When you die, you have two types of assets. Assets that already tell us where they go, through things like a beneficiary designation, joint ownership or ownership in trust. Any asset that does not tell us where it goes at your death, goes by default to your estate. A will is the set of instructions for probate that direct how you want your estate to be distributed after death. A will helps to ensure your wishes are followed and oftentimes makes the probate process easier, especially if your circumstances are unique. A will is part of any complete estate plan, whether or not you want to avoid probate.

Does a trust protect my assets from the nursing home?

No. Minnesota’s public policy dictates that if an individual has assets enough to pay for his or her care, then those assets must first be used to pay for care before any government assistance is available.

Assets held in a trust are considered available assets for purposes of qualifying for Medical Assistance (Minnesota’s Medicaid program) and are not protected from the nursing home. Just because you have executed an estate plan does not mean your assets are protected from the potential need for long-term care.

How does my Personal Representative know that I have them listed? Will you call them and tell them when I die?

You should tell your Personal Representative that you have nominated them to be your Personal Representative. You should also tell them where you keep your Will; however, you do not have to show them the document. We do not reach out to those who you have listed as Personal Representative, but you can instruct them to contact us if they have any questions or need help.

Is Attorney Bill Oehler retired?

With his retirement planned for some time in the near future, Bill encourages his clients to work to transition working with his colleagues on their estate planning and estate administration, real estate sales, purchase, and financing, and whatever other legal matters may arise.