Estate Planning & Probate

St. James and Mankato Attorneys Serving Families Throughout Southern Minnesota

Estate planning is a major step a person takes to make sure their loved ones are taken care of in the event of their death. Estate planning can also include such tasks as establishing a power of attorney, drawing up health care directives, and going ahead and appointing an individual to administer the estate when the time comes. This reduces the burden that your family will face if you become incapacitated or you pass away. During a time of grief, the last thing they want is to start fighting over who receives what or about your wishes regarding your medical treatment.

If you have not yet established an estate plan, now is the time. It is never too late to do such things as establish a will, trusts to protect assets, and directives so your family knows what to do when you cannot speak for yourself. Our St. James and Mankato estate planning lawyers will help you with these tasks, ensuring that everything is in place. If your estate needs to go through probate, our attorneys can also help your family through the probate process in order to reduce the frustrations and confusion often associated with that process. Over the years, our firm has drafted numerous wills, probated many estates, and prepared over a hundred gift tax returns.

Learn more below, or contact Birkholz & Associates for a free consultation about how we can help. We offer estate planning and probate attorney services throughout Southern Minnesota.

Last Will and Testament

The Last Will and Testament is a very important document that outlines your wishes when you die. It is essentially a set of instructions for your loved ones, outlining who should receive specific assets. It may also specify who you want to take custody of your minor children if they should need a guardian.

The will removes a burden from the family, but it is a contestable document. This means that someone can dispute whether you were of sound mind when you signed it. Proper drafting and execution can help prevent a will contest.

A will also doesn’t keep your estate from going into probate. However, creating a trust can help you avoid probate, so you may wish to discuss this option with your attorney if keeping your assets out of probate is one of your goals.

Minnesota Probate Process

Each probate estate is different, so the exact probate process can vary from case to case. The person who is named executor of the estate has the legal responsibility to manage the estate. The process can be confusing, and many executors have never administered an estate before. The services of an experienced Minnesota probate lawyer make the process easier. Because an attorney's services are considered a benefit to the estate, the attorney is paid out of estate funds, not the executor's personal funds.

The Minnesota probate process is as follows:

  • The proper documents are filed with the court to commence administration
  • Beneficiaries and heirs are contacted
  • The tax ID for the estate is obtained
  • A bank account is opened for the estate
  • The estate assets are inventoried
  • Assets are sold, if necessary
  • The last income tax return of the deceased is filed
  • Federal and state estate tax returns are prepared
  • Fiduciary accounting is prepared
  • Assets are distributed
  • The documents that finalize probate are filed

This is a personal and difficult process. However, your probate attorney will offer the guidance needed during this time so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact Our Mankato and St. James Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys

Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Knowing that you have planned where your assets will go after your death will relieve much of your loved ones' stress while they are grieving. You can create a will, draw up trusts to keep assets out of probate, and have powers of attorney and health care directives drawn up so your family will better understand your wishes and be better able to manage your affairs. You also have an attorney who will help you if you are the executor for the estate of a deceased person that has gone into probate.

No matter what side of the process you are on, at Birkholz & Associates, you have an attorney who will work hard for you and who will relieve as much stress for you as possible. To find out more about what we can do for you, contact any of our Southern Minnesota law offices to schedule a free consultation.

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