Why You Need an Estate Plan With a Will

An estate plan ensures that you know exactly where your assets and money is distributed and everything is done within legal documents so that when the time comes, your loved ones have an easier time of handling your affairs during their time of grief. However, there is more to an estate plan than just that. In fact, there are quite a few reasons why everyone needs a plan for their future.

You may be wondering what an estate plan can do for you and if you need it so here are a few things to take into consideration.

More Than Just Assets

An estate plan helps you plan for more than simply your assets and money. It also ensures that if for some reason you cannot take care of yourself or become incapacitated, you are able to choose who you want to make the decisions for you.

The same applies if you have children who are minors and become unable to care for them – the person you designate will be the only person in charge of their care. Without having a will that chooses a guardian, your children under the age of 18 may have to live where a court decides so that is why it is integral to have an estate plan.

And if you have someone who you take care of that needs help such as a parent or child with special needs, you can set up a trust to provide them the care that you can not provide in person.

Minimize Taxes

An estate plan also makes sure that your beneficiaries get the most money possible instead of more of it going towards taxes. With the right estate plan you can help make sure that the minimum amount goes to the government and your beneficiaries get the maximum.

Expedited Property to Beneficiaries

There are a few options that help your beneficiaries get property faster and this includes living trusts, joint tenancy, and insurance that is paid directly to them. You are also able to ensure that your beneficiaries get partial payments during probate and take advantage of either an expedited probate or a simplified one.

Make Things Easier on Your Loved Ones

One of the things that makes it harder on loved ones is if you do not have funeral arrangements in place. An estate plan allows you to set up your funeral as well as have the option to set a limit on how much is spent or choose where you want the arrangements to take place.

Keep Your Business Intact

If you run a small business, with an estate plan you can set up things so that it remains intact and runs smoothly in your absence.

Pick a Trustee or Executor

It is important for you to be able to pick who you want as the executor or trustee of your estate and take some of the burden off of your loved ones.

Choose a Cause You Support

Some people want some or even all of their money to go to a charity, religious cause, or educational cause and by having an estate plan, you know that your wishes are taken care of and the money or assets go exactly where you wish them to.

Everyone needs an estate plan – from those who are younger and unmarried who may need simple items, those who have children, and those who are wealthy and need more help – the bottom line is that you need some kind of planning. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you plan for the future or if you have any questions, simply contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

3 Reasons Why Even Young People Should Write a Will

It’s never too young to write a will. Young people have the lowest percentage of will-writers, but it shouldn’t be that way. Here are a few reasons even young people should write a will.

You Have Children

If you have children or even just one child, you definitely need to write a will, even if you’re young. You need to appoint someone who will be their guardian and trustee. If you have any assets you want to leave them, writing a will is the way to do it.

You Are In a Relationship

Are you in a relationship but you’re not legally married? If you don’t write a will, your beloved partner won’t get anything. In fact, if you have children that were born from a previous marriage, it may be your ex who will be left to deal with your assets.

There Always Are Assets

You may not think that you own a lot of stuff, but there most probably are quite a few items of value in your possession, and you need to take care of delegating them. Pets, benefits (such as life insurance) from employees, jewelry, your car and even digital assets such as social media accounts should all be delegated.

At the risk of sounding morbid, accidents do happen and you should be prepared for them.  If you’re in the military or travel often, creating a will is even more important because of the dangers you face.

For help with all of your will planning and writing needs, just contact us today.

Law Happenings: Trust Benefits Nonprofit Organizations

In 1886, Otto Bremer immigrated from Germany to the St. Paul, Minnesota area. By his death in 1944, Bremer made his fortune through successful investments in banks and brewing companies. Although Otto Bremer died over 65 years ago in 1951, his legacy lives on through the Otto Bremer Trust. Founded by Bremer in 1944, the Otto Bremer Trust continues to help nonprofits in the US.

This year, several nonprofit organizations received a record amount of money from the trust. According to the Mankato Free Press, the trust gave over $400,000 to organizations in the Mankato area this past year. Local organizations that received grants included Open Door Health Center,  Mayo Clinic Health System, The Miracle League, United Way, and the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center.

Financial gifts from trusts help nonprofit organizations start new programs, improve current infrastructure, and bring more services to the people they serve. Open Door Health Center, which received the largest grant, will be able to open new dental clinics, while The Miracle League of North Mankato will build an inclusive Fallenstein Playground. Other nonprofits use the gifts for operation expenses, helping them stay open and provide services.

Starting a trust is one of the best ways to ensure you continue to support organizational missions you care about for generations to come. It’s easy to start a trust while you’re still living and establish a company mission and record of giving in line with your values. Although many people believe you have to be extremely wealthy to establish a trust, this isn’t actually the case. Over the years, your foundation’s assets will grow, allowing your donations, however small they are initially, to grow with time.

Contact us for help establishing a trust.

Do People Really Need Wills?

Bringing up a will is never an easy thing. Death is difficult and many people would rather not think about it. However, if you don’t plan ahead and write out a will now, your family may suffer after you pass away.

Why Are Wills Important?

If you want to make sure your assets and possessions get distributed properly after you pass, you need to ensure that it’s clearly stated in a will. Wills are important because they allow you to choose what goes where before it’s too late. As terrible as it seems, some people may try to take advantage of your passing and a will ensure that the right things happen after your death.

What Can Happen If I Don’t Have A Will?

According to Investopia, without a will, the state will determine how to disperse your assets based on a basic formula. The state created its formula in a way that makes sense for a the most people possible. However, in some cases, it can negatively impact your family. This means it is imperative that you reach out to an attorney and put together a will that works specifically for you.

What Does An Attorney Actually Do?

In the state of Texas, there are two kinds of wills: an attested will or a holographic will. The attested will is one that has been witnessed and the holographic will is one that an individual writes his or herself. In general, an attested or formal will is the better option. The reason for this is that a court may not recognize a will written by your own hand. This means it is best to contact an attorney and create a formal will.

Ford + Bergner LLP would be happy to assist you in creating a final will and testament. Reach out to us today.

Avoiding The Common Causes of Estate Litigation

An unattributed quote that makes the social media rounds a few times per year sums up a feeling that many parents have when thinking about the children they have raised:

“A mother’s prayer is that her children will love each other long after she is gone.”

This is sadly not the reality for many families, and many sibling relationships sour as a result of disagreements over how to handle a parents’ estate. As estate planning attorneys, we know all too well that a lack of preparation during life can result in toxic estate litigation between children long after your death.

The good news is that estate litigation is largely preventable by undertaking thorough estate planning with the help of a proven professional.

Common Causes of Estate Litigation

Typical triggers for will contests and other estate litigation include:
•    Accusations of fraud
•    Parents allegedly agreeing to changes under duress or as a result of undue influence
•    Life insurance designations or lack thereof
•    The presence of a new spouse after a will has been created

All of these issues can be avoided through proper planning and execution of a will, trusts, and other estate planning vehicles. The simple action of creating a will while you are in good health can avoid most allegations of duress and undue influence. Likewise, having your will updated when you remarry can avoid issues with a new spouse or children from a second marriage.

We can help you create an estate plan that addresses these issues and clearly defines what you want to see done with your financial assets, real property, and other possessions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Four Tips To Plan Your Will

Though everyone knows that they need a will, most people don’t have one. They don’t want to think about dying, though it is really important to plan ahead – for your family. Even if you do only write a will for your family, do it for them. Don’t give your family anything else to worry about when you are gone.

Here are some tips to help you plan your will.

  • Remember that it doesn’t have to be hard. Most people use the excuse that it is too much work to write a will. However, it doesn’t have to be. Just write it all out, get it signed, and stick it somewhere safe.
  • It is your will and your decision. It doesn’t matter who is in your will. If you want your children and relatives to get things, put it down. If you don’t want them to get anything, at least mention them so they don’t think that you forgot them.
  • Be very specific and thorough in your will. Make sure that you write down who you want to inherit all of your belongings, even if it doesn’t seem like it should matter. Many items are sentimental and sometimes little things can cause the most fighting.
  • If you own a business, make sure that is included in your will. Make sure that you have plans for your business when you are gone, whether you want to give it to someone in your family or you want it to be closed down.

It can be really hard to write a will and to think about life when you are gone. However, it is not as hard as most people make it out to be. Just write down who you want to inherit what and get it signed. Be as specific as possible and don’t forget about your business.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Three More Tips To Plan Your Will

If you are one of those people who are avoiding it, you really need to write your will. It is really important that you plan ahead for your family! Be as specific as possible to avoid any confrontations down the line.

If you are struggling, here are some more tips to help you plan your will.

Remember that you can give people money without worrying about taxes. Most people don’t want to give their family members money because they worry about the income taxes. However, for most people, they won’t have to pay any taxes on money that they inherit. If you are concerned about it, seek legal advice.

Have all of your papers in a safe place. Even though your retirement accounts, life insurance, and other important papers don’t need to be in your will, they should be close by and easily available. Make sure that they all have a beneficiary so that your family can use them.

Don’t forget about a living will. Though you may not need it at your age, it doesn’t hurt to have a living will. This gives your family members instructions in case you are seriously injured. If you don’t want any drastic measures taken, make sure that your living will is up-to-date.

When planning your will, make sure that all of your other paperwork is in order (and easily found). You may also want to write a living will if you have specific instructions that you want taken in case of an injury. Don’t avoid giving people money just because of taxes. If you are really concerned, seek legal advice to ensure that your family members will be taken care of properly.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.