NEWS & ARTICLES
Wills, Trusts And Other
Essential Estate Planning Instruments
by Johnson, Larson and Peterson, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
When it comes time to
create your estate plan, or if a loved one has died
recently and you are going through the probate
process, you should not handle your legal
representation on your own or trust an inexperienced
lawyer. There is a lot at stake, and successful
representation in these matters requires extensive
legal experience and knowledge and an understanding of
the various legal nuances involved. You need to work
with a law firm with a reputation for exceptional
legal service in probate and estates.
At Johnson, Larson & Peterson, P.A., estate planning
and probate are among our most important focus areas
as a firm. Contact us today at
(763) 682-4550 or visit
WHAT IS A WILL?
is a legal document that allows you to transfer your
money, property, and personal belongings as you wish
after your death. Without a Will, the law of the State
of Minnesota will determine who gets your property.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
Probate is the legal process of gathering and
inventorying your property (your estate), paying your
debts and making sure all property left over is
divided among your heirs or beneficiaries. This
process is supervised and approved by a Judge. The
process itself however is completed by your Personal
Representative. You can name who you want to be the
Personal Representative to handle the probate of your
estate in your Will. If you have no Will, the Court
will decide who will be your Personal Representative.
WHEN IS PROBATE NECESSARY?
Minnesota probate laws generally apply to people who
owned property in and were residents of Minnesota at
the time of their death. Additionally, Minnesota
probate laws apply to property in Minnesota owned by a
nonresident of Minnesota. Please note: Having a
Will does not avoid probate. The need for probate
depends upon the type of property involved, whether it
is owned by you alone or owned with someone else and
if such property is subject to a beneficiary
WHAT ITEMS ARE NOT
SUBJECT TO PROBATE?
Certain types of property and assets do not go through
the probate process. Some of these
include property owned as joint tenants, jointly held
bank accounts, payable-on-death accounts, life
insurance proceeds to a specific beneficiary and
pension survivorship benefits paid to a named
beneficiary at death. In Minnesota, a Transfer on
Death Deed (TODD) allows a person to designate
beneficiaries to receive title to their real property
upon death. There are additional types of property and
ownership methods that may allow certain types of
property to avoid the probate process as well. It may
be advantageous for you to determine if other types of
property you own may be able to avoid the probate
WHAT IS A TRUST?
Trust is a separate legal entity that you create to
manage the distribution of all or part of your
property. You are generally considered the "grantor",
"donor" or "settlor" of the Trust you create. Once
created, the Trust is funded when you transfer some of
your property into the Trust by transferring it to the
Trustee of the Trust. You name the Trustee who can be
a professional with financial knowledge, a relative or
friend, or a professional trust company. The Trustee
holds title to the property and manages the property
for the benefit of the beneficiaries you name in the
Trust. The beneficiaries may be a specific person, or
an organization such as a Church or charity
HOW DO I ESTABLISH A
Establishing a Trust requires you to create a legal
document that specifies the purpose of the trust,
names a Trustee or Trustees to manage the trust
assets, identifies the beneficiaries of the trust, and
directs the Trustee how, when, in what amounts and for
what purposes you want the Trustee to distribute funds
to your named beneficiaries and to put some of your
property into the trust (referred to as the "funding"
of the trust). You may want to consider contacting an
attorney if you would like to set up a trust.
attorney can help you evaluate whether or not you need
a Trust. If a Trust makes sense in your situation, an
attorney can give you ideas as to how best to make
your Trust achieve your goals and truly benefit the
beneficiaries you have named. An attorney can also
help review all your estate planning goals and make
sure that any trust you create fits well in your
overall estate planning.
ARE POSSIBLE USES OF TRUSTS?
A Trust for
your surviving spouse can provide for the spouse’s
future needs, name a Trustee to manage and/or invest
the Trust funds, and establish the details of how,
when, and under what conditions, distributions can
be made to the spouse.
A couple with
minor children could establish a trust for the
benefit of their children should they both die while
the children are still young. They can establish at
what age or ages their children could receive
significant distributions as well as provide for
their daily needs and education.
A person may
establish a trust for a child with special needs so
the child will still qualify for government benefits
available to the child due to their disability.
promoting a particular good cause or religion may be
established to leave a legacy to that cause or
WHAT IS A POWER OF
Power of Attorney is a document authorizing someone to
act on your behalf. You determine how much power the
person will have over your affairs. Your Power of
Attorney can be a general or limited Power of
Attorney. A general Power of Attorney authorizes your
agent to conduct your entire business and affairs. A
limited or special Power of Attorney authorizes your
agent to conduct specific business, perform specified
acts, or make certain decisions on your behalf. A
Power of Attorney is considered "durable," when you
denote that it remains valid even if you become
incompetent or incapacitated. A Power of Attorney
is very valuable, but also very powerful.
You must have trust in your attorney-in-fact(s).
If you have a Power of Attorney and become unable to
pay a bill, sign a tax return or sell your house
because you become incapacitated, the person you named
can do it for you. If not, it will take a court
appointed Conservator to act. Note: A Power of
Attorney ceases/terminates upon death.
WHAT IS A HEALTH CARE
Health Care Directive is a written document that
informs others of your health care wishes. It allows
you to name a person (or "agent") to make decisions
for you if you are unable to do so. Under Minnesota
law, anyone 18 or older can make a Health Care
Directive. Without one, your wishes may not be
followed or your family may have to go to court to
obtain the power to make sure your wishes are upheld.
Call to schedule your
consultation with attorneys Amy Trehey or Rozlyn
& Peterson, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
A Tradition of Service ~
A History of Trust
908 Commercial Drive
Buffalo, MN 55313
Disclaimer – The
information contained herein is for informational
purposes only. Each individual’s financial and family
circumstances are unique and can only be properly
addressed by speaking to an attorney learned in estate
The Stories We Leave
By Meg Sobieck
"Where did you get all
this stuff, Grandma?" asked Hazel, 3 years old.
Have you ever stopped
to think seriously about the story you want to leave
behind, or rather how you want to be remembered?
Your space and stuff at home or work can help you
leave the legacy you want, and with the right
resources, it’s a doable task that you can easily
helpful tool I recently came across is a small
paperback book titled, "The Stories We Leave
Behind: A Legacy-Based Approach to Dealing with
Stuff," by Laura Gilbert. I spotted someone in a
local historical society reading and marking up pages
while sitting behind the front desk. Intrigued by the
title, I asked her about it. She went on to tell me
the fascinating concepts the author outlines to help
the reader reorganize and pair down their "stuff."
Things they bought, pieces they inherited, gifts they
received, odds and ends in the attic, and so on.
As I paged through the
book, immediately I loved the simplicity of each
chapter: 1) Lost Stories; 2) The Story
of Stuff; 3) Choosing and Telling Legacy
Stories; 4) Putting it All Together; and
finally, 5) Living Among Your Best Stories.
One of my favorite parts
is the activities section at the back of the book. A
page titled, "Stand and Consider" asks
the reader thoughtful questions to help them
specifically survey their space. #1. What
themes, personal values or characteristics are
reflected in your stuff (e.g., family, adventure, art,
entertaining)? #2. Which themes do you consider
important to pass on; to be part of your legacy?
#3. Which items tell those stories efficiently and
how do you want to be remembered, and what story tells
that legacy? Does your home and the belongings in
it shine in the spotlight they deserve, or is it
clouded with clutter and excess? If these are
questions you want help in answering, Smart
Organizing Solutions can step in today and assist.
We provide basic transition services for people all
over central Minnesota who are looking to downsize
their property, and right size their space, for
Call Kelly at
320.333.7733 or Julie at 320.248.6694 for a free
consultation. Mention this ad when you become our
next client and receive a $25 in-store credit at our
thrift store / consignment shop, The SOS
Treasure Chest, located at 24 7th St. N. in Sauk
Here to visit our website.
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