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Richard D. Bunin Law Offices
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Estate Planning & Trust Law

St. Louis Park Estate Planning Attorneys Protect Your Family’s Inheritance

An estate plan makes sure your family’s inheritance is preserved

Planning for someone’s estate to be preserved or distributed after they die is often difficult to think about. Although it is sometimes an uncomfortable topic, it is very necessary to start planning as soon as possible. Everyone should have a will or other plan in place for how their assets are to be distributed after they are gone. This ensures that your family and heirs are protected. In addition, proper planning can reduce or eliminate taxes. Planning can also help your family avoid probate, saving money, time, and hassles.

Richard D. Bunin Law Offices provides estate planning services to individuals and families who want to be prepared for the future. Speak with one of our attorneys about options available to Minnesotans.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of protecting an individual’s assets while they are living and providing that their assets will be properly handled and distributed after they die. Every adult, including those who are young or in good health, should develop a plan that explains how they want their assets to be distributed when they are gone. Someone who dies without a will or trust in place has their assets divided during probate in the manner established by the intestacy laws of Minnesota. However, the plan of distribution under the Minnesota intestacy laws may not be what you want. Many relatives, friends, charitable causes or other beneficiaries receive nothing under these rules. A will or trust can eliminate this problem by directing your money and other assets to reach your heirs or others that you have selected in the manner you see fit.

Different estate planning options include:

  • Wills — A will is a written document that instructs how you wish your assets to be distributed when you die.
  • Trusts — A trust is a legal instrument that can be used to control your assets during and/or after your death. You may retain that control yourself or turn the control over to someone else. In a trust, your assets can only be used in accordance with the specific instructions you provide. Trusts can be used to avoid probate, save taxes, protect assets, and provide for a more simplified handling of your estate.
  • Powers of attorney — A power of attorney allows another person to make decisions and manage your property or finances on your behalf if you become disabled. There are several types, each with different advantages.
  • Healthcare directives — A healthcare directive allows an individual’s family member or other person to make decisions regarding care or end-of-life issues if they are ever medically incapacitated.

Our office handles every person’s estate planning needs in a professional and straightforward manner that is easy to understand. Our solutions are tailored to your personal needs.

Why is a will important?

A will is a signed, written document witnessed by others that describes how your money and other property are to be distributed to your beneficiaries. A will eases the probate process for heirs and allows you to control how your assets will be handled and to whom they will be distributed. Courts follow the individual’s instructions in the will. For families with minor children, a will is critical because it appoints guardians to care for those children if their parents are not surviving.

What is a trust and how can it benefit you and your family?

A trust is a legal instrument where you or a person or institution that you appoint is given control over your assets. Assets held in a revocable living trust do not go through the probate process. As a result, the costs and delays of probate can be avoided. While you are living you remain in full control of your revocable living trust. There are also many types of trusts that have significant tax benefits. However, the use of assets held in trust may come with certain restrictions. These are restrictions that you specify.

There are a number of types of trusts available in Minnesota, including:

  • Revocable living trust — A trust created while you are living that you fully control and that you can change at any time. Upon your incapacity you appoint successor trustees who will use your assets to take care of you and distribute your assets in the manner that you specify when you die. This type of trust avoids probate.
  • Testamentary trust — A trust created within your will to provide for tax planning or protection of young or disabled beneficiaries or those who cannot properly handle money. This type of trust only takes effect after your death.
  • Irrevocable trust — A trust created while you are living that you cannot change. This type of trust is used for making gifts to others where you provide controls for the use of the funds.
  • Life insurance trust — An irrevocable trust designed to hold life insurance. The life insurance can benefit your family without being taxed as part of your estate for estate tax purposes.
  • Spendthrift trust — A trust that can provide for a family member who has creditor problems. The money can be used for the family member, but their creditors cannot get the money.
  • Special or supplemental needs trusts — Trusts that can be created for special needs individuals who receive or may receive government benefits. Such individuals often can only have a very limited amount of assets. These trusts can provide additional private benefits without interfering with their government benefits.
  • Charitable trusts — Trusts that offer tax benefits by providing for both you and/or your family along with charities that you select.
  • Generation skipping trusts — Trusts that provide tax benefits by skipping a generation. Such trusts could provide for your children and then go directly to grandchildren.

A trust can be an important method of reducing the tax burden on both the person who relinquished their assets and the beneficiaries. Speak with one of our lawyers today to learn more about options available to you.

What is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and when should it be used?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two individuals before they get married. The individuals must provide full and fair disclosure to each other of assets, income and liabilities. In addition, each individual must have the opportunity to obtain separate legal representation. A postnuptial agreement has somewhat stricter requirements because it is entered into by two individuals after they are married. Married individuals are granted numerous rights under Minnesota law. To protect assets that an individual has accumulated in case of marriage dissolution or to provide for children from a previous relationship upon death, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be the best solution.

Contact one of our St. Louis Park estate planning attorneys today for a free initial estate planning consultation

Estate planning is difficult but every adult should be prepared. Richard D. Bunin Law Offices offers individualized options for all of our clients. Our founder, Richard D. Bunin, has more than 35 years of experience helping Minnesotans with wills, trusts and other estate planning options. We make the estate planning process easy for you. Contact our office at 952.544.2345 or online for a free initial consultation to learn more.