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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

Estate planning basics for Minnesota residents

Gregory A. Lang

Every person leaves an estate when he or she dies. Some estates are considerably larger than others in terms of monetary value; however, almost everyone owns something to pass on to heirs. To make sure each item of monetary or sentimental value ends up in the hands of a desired heir, Minnesota residents may appreciate having a will as part of their estate plan.

The U.S. government has published guidelines on general will requirements. A will must state that it is a will. It must also be made while the person is of a sound mind. An executor, who must be named in the will, has the responsibility to distribute assets as well as pay taxes and any other debts left by the deceased person. Finally, at least two witnesses must sign each will.

A will and any other estate document should be reviewed and updated regularly. Over the course of a person's life, there could be marriages, divorces, births and deaths. Updating documents at least every two years will help to keep the beneficiaries and heirs noted appropriately. Today, some people have valuable online assets such as pictures and writings. These can be passed to heirs for their benefit.

Even though the federal government has encouraged people to document their wishes for their estate, the guidelines point out that every state has requirements for its residents to consider when preparing a will. When a person dies without a valid will, it can be costly and delay the distribution of assets to heirs. Many people value input from an attorney when putting together a will and other estate planning documents.

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