Sometimes we tend to think only the ultra-rich need an estate plan. However, everyone already has an estate plan! Even if you don’t have a will, your assets will eventually pass to your loved ones and be subject to the default rules. Through estate planning, you can guide the way in which your assets will eventually pass. Our attorneys understand all the complexities of estate planning and help you have a better understanding of estate planning concepts so you can start to take control of your estate plan and ensure your wishes are honored.
Our firm is proud to have crafted estate plans that have been meaningful for multiple generations of families in Rochester and throughout Southeastern Minnesota.
Our comprehensive approach to estate planning ensures that you and your family are prepared for your incapacity or death. We focus on drafting documents that provide clear direction to the individuals you have named to act on your behalf as well as planning carefully for estate, property, income, and capital gains taxes. Essential estate planning includes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health directives as well as aligning your assets with your estate plan.
A will is a written document stating who you want to inherit your assets. Assets that pass by the will are those that do not have a beneficiary designation or joint ownership. You can also name who you want to act as guardian for your minor children in a will. One of the downsides of a will is that it must be submitted to the probate court. While this process is generally not significantly expensive or time-consuming, it can create opportunities for these problems to occur and the will does become public record.
Like a will, a trust governs distribution of your assets after your death. However, unlike a will, a trust avoids probate. This allows the assets subject to administration under the trust to pass without delay of administration or the cost of probate. As more and more court records are becoming accessible online, the trust also protects your privacy. If you have a complex estate, such as with a family business, farm, or estate tax concerns, a trust can give you the control and flexibility needed to allow your estate to pass efficiently in the way you choose.
A power of attorney is a legal document in which you designate and empower someone to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are living. A power of attorney typically includes broad powers, including to pay bills, sell or mortgage real estate, and make investment decisions. The person designated is known as the attorney-in-fact. Ensuring you have a current power of attorney in place can help ensure that your family is able to help you if you are ever not able to handle your own finances.
A health care directive is a legal document in which you designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can no longer speak for yourself or no longer have capacity to make medical decisions. A health care directive is also known as a living will or advance care directive. The person named to act on your behalf is known as a health care agent or health care proxy. A health care directive can also include your wishes regarding medical care and thoughts about quality of life, health care and finances, specific medical procedures, as well as organ/tissue donation and religious or spiritual beliefs.