A basic will suits most people's needs. A will allows you to name
an executor or personal representative of your own choosing, and
specify how you want you estate to pass. Otherwise, the State of
Minnesota "writes" your will for you through default selections
outlined in statues. Wills generally must be probated. Probate is
court supervision of the gathering, inventorying and disbursement
of assets according to decedent's wishes.
Some people are probate-avoidant. They have had an unpleasant experience
dealing with the probate process, and/or they wish to eliminate
the cost of probate and associated work for their heirs. They can
accomplish this through a Revocable Living Trust.
A Revocable Living Trust also is excellent for those with property
in more than one state (to avoid more than one probate proceeding),
for those who like to maintain their privacy (as no court file is
open to the public) and for those who want to streamline the asset
distribution process (probate involves waiting periods). It avoids
the expense of probate. It also is extremely useful in the case
where the maker becomes incompetent, because it gives directions
as to how assets will be managed in that case. No expensive Conservatorship
There is a small hassle factor in making a Living Trust work properly:
The maker has to change title of certain assets from his/her own
name, into the name of the trust. We can help you with this, or
give you instructions how to do it.
The Living Trust does not address taxes, which are not a concern
in any event if the value of all your assets, including life insurance
death benefits, retirement plans and your house, does not exceed
$1 million. If your estate does exceed $1 million, the estate tax
on those extra dollars is heavy and can be avoided through some
more basic planning. Often a credit bypass trust or irrevocable
life insurance trust can be used to legally avoid all estate taxes
in a larger estate.