Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Who can make a Will in Minnesota?

The answer to the question of who can legally make a Will in Minnesota is pretty straightforward: Any person 18 or more years of age who is of sound mind may make a Will.

You are considered to be of a sound mind if you understand the meaning and effect of the Will, if you know what you own, and if you understand who it is that you leaving your property to.

So the answer to who can make a Will is pretty straightforward. What about who should make a Will?

 There are good reasons for everyone to make a Will, but once you have children it becomes critical to prepare a Will. The reason for this is because this is how you choose a guardian for your kids if you and the child's other parent are no longer alive. Most people with kids also choose to have some Trust provisions inserted in their Will, which will allow you to make sure that your kids aren't getting large sums of money the minute they turn 18. I've found over the years that very few people would be comfortable with their kids all of a sudden getting a bunch of money the minute they turn 18. And, as I can remember being that age, I don't blame them.

I know there is a million things that you're thinking about when you first have kids, and you passing away probably isn't one of them. But you need to be responsible and make sure you're protecting the ones that completely depend on you in case anything ever happens to you.

Don't put it off, contact me today to get that Will done.

Dan Turnbull
DS Turnbull Law, PLLC
Minnesota Wills Attorney Website

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Federal Estate Tax

The Federal Estate Tax has become a bit of a headache for us estate planning attorneys. Every year the exemption has changed, and last year the estate tax was entirely repealed. As part of the legislation that Obama passed at the end of 2010, the estate tax was reinstated, and will exist in its current form for the next two years.

That said, very few people will be subjected to it. Individuals can pass up to $5,000,000 free of estate tax, and married couples can now use their spouses unused exemption. So the second spouse to die can pass up to $10,000,000 free of the estate tax, assuming that the first spouse did not use any of the exemption.

The tax rate itself was also lowered. The maximum rate on estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping tax is now 35%. The lifetime gift tax exemption is also now at $5,000,000, although the yearly exclusion remains at $13,000.

So while there is currently a federal estate tax, the amount of estates that it will actually impact is very low.

While the Federal Estate Tax has become a rare concern, at least for the next couple of years, Minnesota has it's own estate tax. Any estate over $1,000,000 will likely end up owing some money to the State of Minnesota.

If you have a question you would like answered on this blog, send me an email. My contact information is easy to find at: http://dsturnbulllaw.com/

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Minnesota Wills & Trusts Blog


I am writing this blog to provide information on estate planning and probate to residents of Minnesota. I am a licensed attorney in the state of Minnesota, and I practice throughout the Metro Area.

When i talk about estate planning, the 4 main documents that are created are Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Directives. Not everyone will need all 4, and its important to work with an attorney as well as possibly another professional, such as a financial planner, or an accountant to come up with a plan and the associated documents that both respect your wishes and protect the people you love when you are gone.

Probate is a term that I find very few people really have even heard of. I don't think I ever even heard the term used during law school, so it is understandably an obscure term. Probate is the process that you need to go through to transfer property and change its title that has been given through a Will. Often, in the case of married people, the death of the first spouse does not result in a probate, because the property is jointly owned, so it automatically becomes the property of the surviving spouse. However, once the 2nd spouse passes away, probate is almost always needed. There are ways to create an estate plan that avoids probate, and this is a very common goal of people who are creating an estate plan. Probate can be a long and drawn out process, and it can be expensive, so planning to avoid probate is never a bad idea. But there are also times when a person would prefer that  their property go through probate, so it is important to discuss with your attorney your own situation and what your goals are to determine what to shoot for.

My firm also handles Guardianship and Conservatorship cases. These are very often something that you want to avoid, as they can be complicated, contentious, and costly proceedings. But sadly, many people put off their estate planning until they think they are old enough where the risk of dying is very great, even though very few people who die probably thought they would any time soon. If you become incapacitated, then to handle your personal decisions and to handle your assets such as bank accounts and other things you own, a person or persons must be appointed your guardian and or conservator.

As I go along, I hope to provide lots of useful information on this blog that will help you understand a very complex area of law, but an area of law that will affect 100% of the people in this country. I hope you keep this site bookmarked and check back regularly.

If you are looking into making a Will or other estate planning document, I strongly suggest you do it today. It is always cheaper, often by thousands of dollars, to have a plan put in place ahead of time, which you are able to think about it, then when the inevitable happens.

I provide free consultations in my clients' homes as long as they live in the metro area of Minnesota.

Feel free to call me or email me any time you have any questions.

Dan Turnbull