Asset control and protection motivate estate planning

Making arrangements for the distribution of an estate represents an important task for people in Minnesota regardless of their wealth level. Without an estate plan in place before someone's death, the state will step in to manage an estate. An estate plan can even serve a person prior to death by protecting assets from the costs of living in a nursing home. By making decisions ahead of time and putting a financial plan in writing, people generally overcome arbitrary inheritance laws and preserve assets for heirs.

People concerned about having too many assets to qualify for Medicaid payment for nursing home care have the option of planning a spend down. This process reduces assets strategically so that benefits become available. Even if long-term care never becomes necessary, a person can still use an estate plan to retain control of wealth. A will, trust or combination of both could reduce uncertainty and allow a person to state final wishes clearly. This effort could insulate an estate from disputes among surviving family members.

Probate court fees and taxes might also add up considerably without planning. When informed about how the state and federal laws could apply to wealth, people can develop strategies to reduce tax obligations and court fees. An estate plan also has the potential to ensure privacy for a family that wishes to transfer wealth without making it a matter of public record.

Legal advice is often appropriate when a person wants to pursue estate planning. An attorney could research the law and its application to the person's specific financial situation. The person's goals could also shape the strategy for the estate. An attorney might recommend how to achieve goals like providing for a special needs child, giving to charity or paying for the education of children.

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