Estate Planning And Probate FAQs

Estate planning and probate matters do not get the media attention that other legal matters may receive, unless the family of a high-profile celebrity engages in a probate dispute. The concepts of planning are not necessarily unknown to many people, but they are not always at the top of an individual’s to-do list. Nonetheless, many people harbor significant questions regarding these matters.

For these reasons, I, Michael D. Bernatz, lead attorney at Bernatz Law Office, have compiled a short and nonexhaustive list of estate planning and probate FAQs to help you understand the process.

Why do I need a will?

Drafting and executing a will is important for people from all walks of life. A will allows you to communicate your wishes to loved ones should the unexpected occur. If you pass away without a will, Minnesota law determines who should receive the assets of your estate, who should raise your minor child and how your final affairs should be wrapped up. These concerns may create confusion among your loved ones and may increase the possibility of probate disputes.

If I have a will, do I need to think any more about estate planning?

A will is one aspect of an overall estate plan. A last will and testament, however, does not address issues should you become incapacitated for a short or long period of time. Additional protections for your finances and family may include powers of attorney and advance directives, which can give you peace of mind that your finances and health care decisions will be in proper hands should you be unable to speak for yourself. Moreover, circumstances may change over time. It is important to review your will, and any other estate plans, when family dynamics or assets change.

Is it a good idea to create a trust?

Trusts are versatile estate planning tools. However, despite their potential benefits and flexibility, trusts may not be appropriate for every household. I can evaluate your goals, your family dynamics and asset structures, and explain if a trust is appropriate for your unique circumstances. The costs associated with a trust may exceed the overall benefit of the trust in some circumstances. There may be other avenues for you to achieve your goals. In other situations, a trust may accomplish everything you need at less cost than other solutions. Choosing the proper tool for each individual task is important. For that reason, I strive to tailor estate planning solutions to achieve personalized results.

My relative died without an estate plan – does the estate have to go through probate?

When a person dies intestate, that is without a will, state law steps in to determine how to distribute assets of the estate. Minnesota probate courts are the proper venue for administering estates, whether a will exists or whether a person did not put together an estate plan to have a voice in the distribution of assets.

For Personalized Answers To Your Questions, Arrange A Free Consultation

To arrange a confidential consultation to discuss your concerns with me, send me an email or call my office in Winona at 507-457-9808. At the Bernatz Law Office, I offer flexible scheduling, and if you are not able to travel to downtown Winona, you can arrange for me to come to you for a meeting.

How Can I Help You?