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Helping You Navigate Complex
Legal Issues

Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

March 2015 Archives

Gregory A. Lang

Dean Smith's trust offers gift to former players

As some Minnesota residents may have heard, when Dean Smith, the late college basketball coach, left $200 to about 180 of the players he had coached during his career, the news spread because players posted pictures of the letters and checks on social media. However, if they had not done so, the press would never have known about the gifts because they were distributed through a special estate-planning tool called the revocable trust. In addition to ensuring privacy, revocable trusts provide a buffer against estate taxes, which makes them in states that tax estates upon transfer.

Understanding trusts and bankruptcy

Estate owners in Minnesota might be interested in learning more about how a trust can be affected by filing bankruptcy. The core issue in these scenarios is identifying who is in control of the assets. The trustee appointed to a bankruptcy case is responsible for finding all the assets that the debtor owns. Trustees are concerned with determining whether the debtor is in control of assets such as investment accounts, saving accounts, checking accounts or property.

Every adult should have a will

Minnesota residents who have not prepared a will are not alone. In fact, about 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have no will. Although some people believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy, the truth is, everyone with a family should think about writing a will.

Why wills are important in Minnesota

Writing a will may be something that many people tend to put off, and some do not understand why they are important to have in the first place. A person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. In such an event, under state law governing intestacy the court will allocate and distribute the decedent's property to those who fall into the categories set forth in the applicable statute, even if the person wished to have passed them to different intended beneficiaries or in different percentages.

The role of the executor or trustee in Minnesota

When an individual dies, he or she may have left directions for how his or her estate was to be distributed. However, before that can happen, it is important to first inventory the assets in an estate and file a tax return for that estate. This is generally done by an executor of an estate or the trustee under a trust. In many cases, the role of the executor and the trustee may be the same thing, although worded differently.

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