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Estate Planning Lawyer in St. Paul, Minnesota

Estate Planning Lawyer St. Paul, MN

A St. Paul, MN estate planning lawyer would advise that individuals who own an estate should make early preparations for how they want their wealth and assets to be managed. If you have an income and multiple possessions, then you have an estate. Estate planning is a key part of financial planning that many people choose not to develop. To ensure your wealth and assets are handled according to your wishes, it’s important that you create an estate plan while you are healthy enough to communicate your needs related to topics like asset division and future healthcare treatments. Discuss your plans with an attorney who has years of legal experience, such as one at Johnston Martineau, PLLP.


Do I Need an Estate Planning Lawyer?

An estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, Minnesota, can help you prepare for catastrophe. They can also help you look after your family long after you’ve passed – and they can help you avoid estate tax, too.  One of the things that people tend to forget is about how unexpected catastrophes can be.  One day, someone can have strong finances, and the next day, unexpected loss can occur.  

So, short answer: Yes, you definitely need an estate planning lawyer. For a more in-depth look at what an estate planning lawyer can do for you, and why you should definitely get in touch with one today, read on.


An Estate without a Will: The Perfect Nightmare

Over time, everyone builds up an estate: All the assets (and debts) that you’ve collected over the course of your lifetime. You may not think it’s much, but think about everything you’ve worked towards, and everything you own. All the assets you’ve built up for yourself, right down to the clothes on your back, will be up for grabs once you die.

It’s not the most cheery way of looking at the sum of your accomplishments, but leaving behind a considerable estate for your loved ones is a good way to take care of them well after you’ve died – assuming there’s no crushing debt included in the estate, of course. So how do you make sure your family gets what’s included in your estate?

A will names an executor to handle probate (the process by which all assets are found, classified, and divided amongst family members). If there’s no will, the state will name an executor from the family of the deceased. This may seem satisfactory to you: Your spouse or oldest child will be able to handle everything, right?

Unfortunately, it’s possible to challenge the state’s choice of executor. You might be happy with your family, but was there any bad blood between you and your ex-spouse? What about long-lost siblings or family members you’ve tried to cut out of your life?

It’s a cliché we’ve all seen before: Strangers coming out of the woodwork to claim a slice of your money, all under the guise of being “family”. When you die, you don’t want that to happen to everything you’ve worked hard to build for your loved ones. Fortunately, an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN, can help keep your estate in the right hands.This is why taking care and assessing the situation right from the beginning, should be a necessity. 


Why is an Estate Planning Lawyer Important?

The reason why it is so important is because without proper planning, there can be consequences that arise. Will is the essence of estate planning, and this is something that more people should realize. As mentioned before, without a will, the state will name an executor for the family, which would end up causing financial consequences.  As such, it is important to ensure that when it comes to planning an estate lawyer, finances are protected.  

How To Choose the Right Guardian for Your Children

Estate planning can feel overwhelming at times. Planning for your own death can feel daunting. But it’s still crucial to ensure your wishes are carried out once you have passed on. Choosing powers of attorney and healthcare proxies and creating trusts, and wills are all vital to any estate plan. An estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN, such as Johnston Martineau PLLP can help you overcome the overwhelm. But the most important choice of all is picking the right guardian for your children.

Choose a Guardian Who Shares Your Religious Beliefs

Religion has always been one of those topics people avoid discussing, for fear of starting a hometown holy war. If you are raising your children in a particular religious belief, you will want to ensure the guardian you choose will continue raising them in that faith. 

Choose a Guardian Who Wants To Raise Children

In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith asks Christina to be her daughter Zola’s guardian in case anything ever happens to her and her husband. Christina talks about the herd of German nannies she’d hire to take care of Meredith’s daughter.She then admits that even though she loves her, she wouldn’t be a good guardian for Zola because she has never wanted to have kids. 

Talk with the people you want to be your children’s guardians. Make absolutely certain they want to raise your kids in the event something tragic happens to you. 

Choose a Guardian You and Your Spouse Agree On

He wants his brother to stand as guardian. You’re convinced your best friend is the best option. How do you break the stalemate? Consider other alternatives, like a family friend. Someone who has children the same age as yours would be ideal. It’s even better if they live in the same school district as you. That way your kids would have the comfort of familiarity while going through the emotional turmoil of losing you. 

Choose Backup Guardians

If, for some reason, your chosen guardian becomes unable to serve in that function, you’ll want to have a couple of backup choices. Make sure the backup options meet the same high standards as your first choice. Your estate planning Lawyer in St. Paul, MN, can help you write multiple guardians into your will.

Once you’ve chosen the guardians you want for your children, visit an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN, such as Johnston Martineau PLLP to help you ensure your wishes regarding your children will be carried out after you pass away.

How To Prepare for Your Estate Planning Meeting with Your Attorney

Write Down Your Questions

If you have never had a will drafted or worked with an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul MN, you probably have lots of questions. For example, you may question whether you actually need an estate plan, what to do if your financials or assets change and what taxes your heirs may be subject to upon your death. You may also ask about fees, the attorney’s experience and the firm’s assets.

The attorneys at Johnston Martineau PLLP can help you find ways to reduce your taxes and minimize your probate period. Reputable estate attorneys also provide regular reviews of your estate, so you will develop a professional relationship with them, which should help you feel more comfortable asking them questions over time.

Gather Your Assets

Before you meet with your estate planning lawyer in St. Paul MN, you should gather all your assets together. Make a list of everything that has value, whether it is extrinsic or intrinsic. For example, you should list your real estate holdings, valuable artwork and jewelry, financial accounts and insurances. However, you may have family heirlooms that may not have financial value but are valuable to you and your heirs. It may seem silly to list these, but designating a beneficiary now can prevent family disagreements in the future.

Once you list your assets, start gathering your documentation. For example, you will need the deeds to any property you own, your vehicle titles, any provenances for your artwork and all your financial account information. If you have intellectual property, such as trademarks and patents, gather those as well, even if they aren’t income-producing. Stock certificates and life insurance policies should also be included. If you own a business or have business contracts, include copies of your business documents.

Make Copies of Personal Documents

You should also make copies of your personal documents. For example, copy your marriage licenses, divorce decrees and the birth certificates of your children. You should compile the contact information for all your beneficiaries. If you have minor children, you need to discuss guardianship with someone you trust and provide this information as well as their contact information to your estate planning lawyer in St. Paul MN.

Consider Your Desired Distributions

Write down your initial distribution thoughts. A reputable law firm, e.g., Johnston Martineau PLLP, can help you determine who gets what. These attorneys will ask you questions about your family and loved ones and help you work out how you want your assets distributed. They may also suggest trustees, executors and guardians. These professionals will ask you questions you may not have considered, such as whether you want to give part of your estate to a charity.

Contact Johnston Martineau, PLLP, Today

Your belongings can be distributed amongst your loved ones, but only if you’ve left proper instructions. If you haven’t left a will behind, you could be setting your family up for some unnecessary drama, which can make their grieving process all the more difficult.

The right estate planning lawyer can ensure a smooth transition for everyone you care about after you’ve died. Probate is never a straightforward process, but they can help lay the proper guidelines to ensure your family is able to grieve properly, rather than argue and fight amongst themselves. When you reach out to Johnston Martineau, PLLP, you are taking the first step towards a comprehensive will, and a well-planned estate that leaves nothing to chance after your death.

Get in touch with Johnston Martineau, PLLP today, and see how an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN can help you tomorrow.


Questions to Ask Your Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning is a long, and sometimes difficult process. It forces individuals that may not have any kind of financial training to deal with fiscal matters that occur while they are living, and after they die. This is an extremely important process, as it ensures your assets are managed and that the next generation of your family will receive their inheritance without incident or disruption.

Any lawyer can make a will as long as it is a straightforward situation, such as naming a beneficiary of your 401(k), but when you have more than one heir and more than one thing to give away, you need a specialized lawyer.


Before choosing just any lawyer, you should ask them questions to ensure they are right for your needs.

You should always ask your lawyer how long they have been practicing. You want someone who is experienced, because they will have seen a variety of documents and forms that you may not even be aware exist. There’s a lot of things that can happen after a client’s death, and you may find yourself with those situations looming ahead, so you’ll want a lawyer that’s dealt with everything under the sun. This does not mean you shouldn’t give a less experienced lawyer a chance, but only do so if you feel comfortable doing so.

You should also ask if your lawyer primarily focuses on estate planning. You usually want them to answer yes to this question, or if they have other specialties they probably tie into estate planning. This is because a lawyer who focuses on specialties involving estate planning is likely to be on the up-and-up with legal changes, and will have knowledge of legal statutes and can carefully word your documents to be effective.

Always ask your lawyer if they execute the plan. Some do, some do not. You may find yourself wanting a lawyer that will be with you from beginning to end, as morbid as that sounds. A lawyer that helped you draft and prepare everything is going to be the best person possible to execute everything and ensure it runs smoothly.

Ask whether your lawyer conducts periodic reviews. This is basically reviewing your affairs every year to ensure that the documents that were drafted previously still stand. They can then make additions or edits to the documents if there are things not included in the original forms.

You should always ask your lawyer how they charge, to ensure it fits your budget. Some lawyers charge flat fees, others do hourly fees, and sometimes both types of fees are charged depending on the services required. You want to make sure you won’t have any issue paying your lawyer to help you.

A revocable living trust can help your estate avoid the probate process, which is filing with the court, but this is not the best move for everyone because these trusts do not avoid inheritance, estate or income taxes. Some lawyers recommend these structures when they’re not useful to the client, so ask your lawyer and talk about this option and whether it is right for you.

How To Prepare for Your Estate Planning Appointment

Write Down Your Questions and Important Information

Your first task, and you may do this before you contact an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN, is to write down your questions. You may wonder what type of documents you need, how to protect yourself and your heirs from future taxation, how long the process will take, how often you need to update your documents and what everything will cost. Whatever questions you have, write them down.

Then, make a list of your debts and assets. Be sure to include even your smallest debts, such as consumer credit. Don’t forget to list all your assets. You don’t have to list everything you have individually, but anything that has value, even if it is intrinsic, should be listed. Include your bank, stock and other investment, real estate holdings, vehicles, jewelry, weapons, life insurances and artwork. You may also include things that your family may fight over.

Finally, list your beneficiaries. You should also connect them with the assets you want them to have. If anyone is not included, you may want to state why so that you can discuss this with your attorney. Don’t forget your executors, trustees and healthcare and financial agents.

Fill Out Any Pre-Appointment Documents Your Attorney Requests

Most estate planning attorneys, such as those with Johnston Martineau PLLP, will have a questionnaire or other document that you need to fill out before your appointment. The purpose of these documents is to get you thinking about your distributions and give them an idea of your financial and personal family situations. These documents help your estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN guide and advise you throughout the process.

Also, if you fill out this document, you can save on legal fees because your attorney won’t have to ask you the questions and fill it out while you are on the clock.

Gather Your Documentation

First, you need to get copies of any deeds, financial statements, artwork provenances, jewelry receipts and other financial documents. You should also collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of your beneficiaries. You will need copies of your insurance, stock and bond statements. Include any business agreements you have made. If you have intellectual property, don’t forget to include your trademark, copyright or patent certificates. Finally, gather information about any digital assets you have.

If you have minor children, the attorneys at Johnston Martineau PLLP will tell you that you will need to choose one or more guardians. These individuals will be responsible for caring for your children if anything happens to you, so be sure they have the same values and sufficient finances to support your children, even if you have the ability to set aside a trust that helps with their care. Also, discuss this arrangement with your prospective guardians and get their agreement before assigning them guardianship.

Estate Planning Lawyer in St. Paul, MN

The legal team at Johnston Martineau, PLLP has served numerous clients, working on a wide range of specialties. They believe in making sure that every client’s voice is heard and that their needs are met. Every person deserves to work with a lawyer who will be fully available and transparent with them throughout the case. Learn how you can benefit from quality legal services by scheduling a consultation.


Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Estate planning refers to the development or arrangement of legal documentation that includes important information about how an individual’s total net worth is handled, especially at the time of their passing. An estate plan is not just about ensuring your values are understood, but it is also about protecting your loved ones.

There are a number of determining factors that may be at play to see if you would benefit from an estate plan. If you have specific directions for how your possessions should be passed down to your family, then it may be wise to draft an estate plan. A St. Paul, Minnesota estate planning lawyer would recommend that you consider the following if you are not sure whether an estate plan is advantageous for you:


Why choose an Estate Plan?

The reason why it is important to choose an estate plan, is because doing so aids in determining the kind of plan that one should choose, based on the situation that one is in.  This is especially true, when it comes to financial situations.  For example; let’s say that one is looking for an estate plan that can ease financial burdens.    


Family planning. 

Are you and your partner planning to have children? If so, having an estate plan would allow you to name guardians, establish wills, and other actions to ensure that your children are provided for. This is why when it comes to estate planning, it is important to think about not just the short term effects and goals, but also the long term effects and goals as well. This helps to ensure strong financial security measures.    


Estate value. 

Individuals who have an estate of considerable size may opt to create an estate plan because of the amount of assets that need to be managed. Laws are constantly being updated, so depending on the value of your estate, you may benefit from a comprehensive estate plan to better manage your asset division.


Preparation for your needs. 

Estate plans are useful for providing detailed instructions regarding healthcare decisions to be made later in your life. This includes documents like a Power of Attorney that specifies who can determine the type of medical treatments you want performed on you should you become incapacitated.


Charitable giving. 

Are there specific organizations or charitable causes you want to donate to? You can communicate your philanthropic preferences in an estate plan.


Different Kinds of Estate Plans

There are a variety of different plans out there that you may consider for your own personal estate plan. Some of the differing types of items in an estate plan could include things like a last will, living will, Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, burial plans, as well as designation of guardians. Everyone’s estate plans may differ from individual to individual. An estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, Minnesota from Johnston Martineau PLLP can be of assistance. There are different powers and actions that each estate item holds, so it’s important to understand the nuances of these different terms.


Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney are something that can make life much easier for the affected individual and their families in a few different circumstances. Some Powers of Attorney designate different actions during different circumstances. A regular Power of Attorney allows a designated individual like a family member or close friend to decide actions to be taken place for a person while they are still of good mind, but in need of some help. These actions could include some financial decisions, gifting, taxes, or deciding crucial medical decisions on that person’s behalf.

A Durable Power of Attorney differs from a regular Power of Attorney in that the Durable Power of Attorney is still held by the designated individual to make decisions if the person has become incapacitated, like in a coma. With this Durable Power of Attorney, the person has the options to allow the person they designate to make those important financial or medical decisions on their behalf if they have become incapacitated.


What Kind of Wills are There?

A couple different wills exist that do different things for individuals and their estates. A will is something that is set up to take effect when someone has died. This could be for purposes of estate gifts or other actions to be taken upon the death of the individual. A living will is something that differs from a regular will. This is because the living will work while the person is still alive. 

It allows people to make decisions on behalf of the person when they no longer can make decisions for themselves. An example of this would be if that person went into a coma. The family could then decide which procedures or actions could be administered to keep that person alive. The living will would have been set up before this type of unfortunate event happened. This means the person will make those decisions for items like when to use and stop using life support or other means.


Why are such Wills Important?

The reason why the wills are important, is because they help individuals to realize not just the different types of wills, but also how they can and should be used as well.  For example; let’s say that an individual got into a car crash and ended up in a coma.  The reason why a will would be important, is because it aids in protecting people, who may end up in car accidents, fatal injuries, etc. Also, such wills are important, because they can be set in stone ahead of time, rather than waiting until after an accident occurs.   


How Can Someone Get Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney can be set up with an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN. Lawyers from Johnston Martineau PLLP have years of experience helping clients set up these documents. There are various state laws that have to be navigated and discussed in order for the Powers of Attorney of your choice to be set up. It’s always good to keep in mind what you and the family will want to have happen when you are in need of extra help.


Why is the Power of an Attorney Important?

With years of experience, attorneys can ensure that those in need get the estate planning that is necessary. However, their power is important, because there needs to be a demonstration, that people get the needs they deserve, within the full extent of the law. As such, attorneys need to set an example, as to how justice can be served, to the full extent of the law.  


Schedule a Free Consultation

There are numerous benefits to estate planning that can resolve many of your financial concerns. Talk to an estate planning lawyer trusted by St. Paul, MN residents such as one from Johnston Martineau, PLLP to discuss your options.


Common Myths About Estate Planning

While most people have a basic idea about what estate planning is, not everyone truly understands the specifics. In fact, there are many myths about the process. Here are some common misconceptions about estate planning that you shouldn’t believe.


Estate plans are only necessary for the very wealthy. Many people are reluctant to establish an estate plan because they don’t think they have enough wealth. However, even if you have a modest income and assets, it’s still a good idea to create an estate plan. After all, you want the right people to receive your house, family heirlooms and other assets after you’re gone. If you don’t have a proper plan in place, there’s no guarantee your property will go to the people you want.

Young people can wait until they’re older to create estate plans. One of the most common myths about estate planning that an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN hears is that young people don’t need them. That’s just not true. Even if you’re young and healthy, life isn’t always predictable. If you should die unexpectedly, you don’t know if your assets will go to the right people. If you create an estate plan sooner than later, you can have peace of mind.

Estate planning is strictly about property. Another common misconception about estate planning is that it’s all about property. However, it’s so much more than that. If you have children, an estate plan allows you to designate a guardian to take care of your kids if you should die unexpectedly. In an estate plan, you can also have a living will, which lets you pick a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re no longer able to do so.

You can just create an estate plan at home. Although there are many DIY estate plan kits available, you should think twice before using one. Estate plans involve complex language and the laws are constantly changing. If you’re not familiar with the law and make one mistake, your plan will be invalid. That’s why it’s worth it to work with a skilled estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN.

It’s best to give your kids equal inheritances. Many parents still believe that they should give their kids the same inheritances to be fair. However, your kids likely have different needs and goals. If one child, for example, struggles financially more than the others, it may be wise to give him or her a larger inheritance.


How to Choose the Right Executor

One of the most important aspects of estate planning is appointing the right executor. This person will ensure that your final wishes are carried out and distribute assets to beneficiaries. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right executor:

Choose someone you trust. Trustworthiness is one of the most important qualities to look for in an executor. You should be confident that this person will carry out your exact wishes and not gain any personal benefits from their decisions.

Select a responsible person. There is a lot that goes into being an executor, from maintaining the deceased’s property to notifying financial institutions of the person’s death. The executor also needs to contact various professionals, like lawyers and accountants when necessary. That is why it is critical to choose someone responsible enough to handle the task at hand. He or she should make the executor role a top priority.

Pick someone with good communication skills. The executor will have to maintain frequent contact with your beneficiaries. As such, it is important for the executor to possess good communication skills. He or she should frequently update beneficiaries about what is going on with the estate. Otherwise, your beneficiaries could become suspicious.

Choose someone who will be fair. An executor’s job is to keep your beneficiaries’ best interests at heart. Therefore, you should appoint an executor you know that will be fair and impartial. If you do not think anyone in your family will be fair, an estate planning lawyer in St. Paul, MN may suggest appointing a lawyer to take on the role as executor.

Make sure the executor is organized. Settling an estate involves many tasks, including listing assets and meeting court deadlines. That is why it is important to choose an executor who is organized and pays careful attention to detail. Without organization skills, deadlines can get missed and draw out the entire process.

Select someone who is available. Being an executor of an estate takes a lot of time and dedication. The executor is responsible for contacting creditors, filing taxes for the estate and communicating with beneficiaries. Not everyone has the time to be an executor. Therefore, you should ask the person you want to appoint as an executor if he or she is up for the task.

estate planning Lawyer St. Paul MN- wooden gavel on a tableAn estate planning lawyer can help you plan your future and provide the best future possible for your family and friends, but they can also help if you’ve been named in someone’s will or trust and you need help navigating what comes after the loss of a loved one.

Any loss means taking time to grieve, but it’s difficult to get the closure you need when you’re struggling with legal proceedings and unfamiliar paperwork. Fortunately, an estate planning Lawyer in St. Paul MN from Johnston Martineau, PLLP can provide all the information you need. Read this brief FAQ to get a better understanding of how an estate lawyer can help if you’ve been named in someone’s trust.

What Does it Mean if I’m Named the Trustee?

If you were named as the trustee in someone’s living trust, it means you shoulder the responsibility of following the instructions left behind in the trust. You are in charge of fulfilling the last wishes of the person who has died, and you have to follow the terms and conditions of the trust as closely as possible. It’s a lot of work, and chances are you were chosen for good reason: You’re the most responsible and reasonable person the decedent knew, and now you get to make good on their expectations.

What Does Trust Administration Entail?

When someone dies and leaves behind a will, their estate has to go through probate court. Probate is a long and complicated process that has plenty of openings for legal infighting, taxes, and fees. However, it’s an essential part of making sure someone’s assets get to the right people.

A trust is a great way to avoid probate, but it comes with its own share of problems and complications. When you administer a trust, there are a few important steps you have to follow, and if you fail to stick to these steps as closely as possible, you could be sued by other members of the estate for neglecting your duty as the trustee.

What are the Steps of Trust Administration?

The first thing you have to do when administering a trust is gather all the required paperwork. This means tracking down important documentation about assets and investments owned by the decedent, as well as seeing what should be done with these assets in accordance with the decedent’s last wishes.

After tracking down all the required paperwork, you’ll have to secure the assets and have them valued. It’s important to have the assets secured, because the next step involves reaching out to everyone named in the trust so they can get what was left behind for them. When you notify the beneficiaries of a trust, it’s your job to provide a copy of the trust in the event they request copies, so everyone can be on the same page and proceed with confidence.

As trustee, you’ll have to pay off any outstanding debts and fees before distributing assets. You may have secured the assets and informed the beneficiaries, but you still have to pay taxes and fees before the beneficiaries receive a single cent. These fees and expenses include funeral fees and cremation costs, and if the decedent had any outstanding debts, you’ll have to square those away as well.

Once everything has been paid for, you’re finally able to oversee the distribution of assets amongst the beneficiaries. This should be done in accordance to the instructions left behind in the trust.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Trust administration requires a lot of work and takes several steps. It’s common for people to have questions about what they should do if they’ve been named a trustee, but fortunately you can contact an estate planning lawyer for more information. Reach out to Johnston Martineau, PLLP today.

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