When people in Minnesota create an estate plan, those plans will rely on several different tools, such as a last will and testament. It’s important for you to understand what each of these tools does if you want to get the most out of your plan.
A will, for example, covers a limited number of issues. The issues covered under your will are all very important, even though you will need additional estate planning tools to accomplish all of your goals. Here is what a will covers, and what it doesn’t.
A will covers your inheritance choices.
When you die leaving behind personally owned property, you have the legal right to determine who inherits the property after you’re gone. If you don’t make a will, the individually owned property you have will be distributed to others, but not in accordance with your wishes. Instead, state law will determine who inherits that property.
Through a last will and testament you can make your own inheritance choices. As long as you create a will that complies with the appropriate legal requirements, you can make any choices you desire in this area. You are also free to change these choices later by modifying the will or making amendments to it.
A will doesn’t cover non-probate property.
It’s important to note that the inheritance choices you make in your will only apply to what is known as probate property. Probate is a legal process that applies after someone dies leaving behind property. To determine who the new owners are, probate court will appoint someone to supervise the property left behind and determine who is legally entitled to inherit it.
If you own property as an individual, this property will have to go through probate before new owners take possession. However, some property will automatically skip probate. This type of property includes anything owned by a trust, property you own in certain types of joint ownership with someone else, and property that has a transfer-on-death beneficiary.
A will allows you to appoint an executor.
The person responsible for managing your property after you die is called an executor or personal representative. You can choose this person by naming your selection in your will. As long as a person is willing and able to serve, you can choose anyone you like.
A will doesn’t cover living representatives.
Your will only takes effect after you are dead. Therefore, you cannot use a last will and testament to name someone who can represent your interests while you’re still alive. To do this, you will need to use different estate planning tools, such as durable powers of attorney.