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Helping You Navigate Complex
Legal Issues

Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

January 2015 Archives

Gregory A. Lang

Minnesota charitable trusts

When people are planning their estates, some may want to either set up a charitable foundation or create a trust for charitable purposes. Courts will generally not hold these types of trusts to be invalid if they are unclear or if the charitable beneficiary is uncertain. Instead, if there is a question, courts will try to enforce the purpose of the trust as closely as possible.

Avoiding probate when passing on real estate

For some people in Minnesota, the primary valuable asset they may want passed on after they die is real estate. Real estate may be the residential home in which the person lives or it may involve other real estate holdings. It is possible to ensure the real estate held passes to the person's intended beneficiaries without necessitating the expense and potential litigation of the probate process.

Trusts and their common pitfalls

Minnesota residents who wish to administer their estate through a trust should be aware of some common issues with trust setup and execution. A trust can be a useful tool for carrying out complex bequests, seeing to the long-term care of disabled and troubled relatives, protecting the family from the publicity associated with probate and shielding a larger proportion of the estate from excess tax exposure. However, the trust must be created and administered properly, or it may be largely ineffective.

What is the difference between informal and formal probate?

As Minnesota residents may know, probate is the process through which an estate is settled and property is transferred. Generally, this method assures the validity of a will as well as providing a vehicle for cataloging assets as well as identifying and appraising them. Once debt and any taxes owed by the estate are paid, the remaining assets are dispersed as the will intends. In the absence of a will, state law will determine distribution.

How a second home could impact estate planning

Minnesota residents who own a second home may need to account for that property in their estate plan. This is important even if they do not use the property, but other family members do. After the owner of the property passes on, it may be difficult or impossible for other family members to jointly own the property. Failing to have a plan ahead of time could cause lawsuits between family members.

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