• 29 years of experience
• Divorce, Paternity, Custody
• Guardianship/Conservatorship
• Alternative Dispute Resolution
• Probate, Wills and Estate Planning

Resources

Probate Administration & Wills:

To have an effective estate plan in place to ensure the orderly distribution of assets in the event of your death, you want to work closely with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Even though there are forms available online that will allow you to prepare your own will or trust, there are many mistakes that can be and often are made. Trying to take short cuts through these self-help plans can often cause your beneficiaries headaches and thousands of dollars of attorneys fees later which often can be avoided with the right plan. You want a lawyer who understands the laws, and who will carefully set up a plan that meets your specific needs.

When you hire Krause Law Offices to help you put together an estate plan, the firm will work with you to develop a plan that will meet your specific objectives. Once all of the various options have been explained and a specific approach has been determined that best fits your needs, the firm will prepare the documents necessary to put your plan in place, including wills, trusts (if appropriate), powers of attorney and health care directives. Flat fees are charged for the preparation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a personal representative distributes a deceased persons’ probate assets. Probate assets are those assets titled in a persons’ name alone. Non-probate assets include jointly owned property, retirement and life insurance plans with a specific beneficiary designated and various other assets. A will directs the transfer of probate assets, while non-probate assets are transferred outside of the probate process.

The probate process in Minnesota is relatively straightforward for an experienced practitioner, but is fairly technical and complicated for the inexperienced, particularly if real estate is involved. In addition to the numerous forms that must be completed and filed, each county’s probate division handles things a bit differently. There are also several mandatory notices which are now required, even in informal, unsupervised administrations. An experienced practitioner can generally guide a personal representative through this process smoothly which ultimately benefits everyone involved. By creating an estate plan upon the advice of an experienced attorney, you can generally make this process simpler and less expensive for your loved ones later or possibly avoid probate altogether. Should the probate process become necessary, Krause Law Offices is very experienced in handling these matters, whether it be an informal or formal administration.

Estate Planning Basics & Tools

Wills

A will determines who receives a person’s property at death. The recipients of the property are called beneficiaries. A will is used to name an estate representative, appoint a guardian to care for minor children, set up a trust, if appropriate, direct how a person’s tangible property should be distributed and determine how and when property is transferred to beneficiaries.

Trusts

This flexible planning tool can be used for a variety of purposes. One purpose is to transfer property without the need for a probate. Another purpose is to give discretion to provide for several family members or different generations of family members by delaying the distribution of your property. Although trusts can be extremely useful in some cases, they are not necessary or even a good alternative for everyone.

Health Care Directive

Also known as a living will, a health care directive is a very important estate planning tool. This document allows an individual to name someone who will make health care decisions if the person is unable to do so. The health care directive is only effective when a  person cannot communicate his or her wishes to the health care provider. Health care directives guide the health care agent in making important and sometimes difficult decisions regarding medical care. A health care directive also designates a preference for who should be a person’s guardian should this become necessary later on.

Powers of Attorney

Naming an “agent” or “attorney in fact” is also significant estate planning tool. Once a power of attorney is signed, the attorney in fact can handle financial matters for another individual, called “the principal”. In many cases, for estate planning purposes, the powers granted are broad and sweeping. In others, the authority of an attorney in fact can be limited either to specific transactions or situations where the principal is unable to act (i.e. the power limited to a particular real estate transaction only).

Proper use of these estate planning tools with the advice of an experienced lawyer can often avoid an expensive probate for persons who pass away and can also often can avoid the more cumbersome and expensive process of guardianship and conservatorship, if the individual is still alive, but are now incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions. Should a guardianship or conservatorship become necessary, the firm has substantial expertise in this area and can handle any issues that may arise.