MN Probate Laws | Wills and Trusts: Simple Rules for Giving Property Away to Others

Before scheduling your next appointment with your Minnesota probate attorney, you may want to review the following legal MN Probate Lawsprinciples that often govern how a person can give away property to beneficiaries under a Will or trust.

Once you fully understand these informal rules, and have prepared a list of all of your property, you and your lawyer can make better progress toward carefully dividing up your possessions and leaving them to others upon your death.

Summary of Rules That Often Control How You Give Your Property to Others and MN Probate Laws

  • You should never confuse the courts by trying to use a Will to give away property already disposed of by other documents. Before leaving any property to others under a Will, ask your lawyer if it would be simpler to just leave your money or property to your loved ones by naming them as beneficiaries to your: IRA and/or 401k retirement accounts; one or more trusts; POD (payable on death) bank or other investment accounts; or thr
    gh gifts of various annuities. Many people only use a Will as a “catch-all” device for property that they may forget to include in other documents prior to their death;
  • You can only give away co-owned business property under a Will if you have a written agreement that expressly provides for this type of arrangement — upon your death or when you otherwise stop working with your business partners. Keep in mind that since you can’t know the exact buyout amount that your partners may be willing to pay to your surviving beneficiaries, it’s best not to name a sum in your Will;
  • Revise your Will periodically so you can avoid naming one or more gifts that you may decide to give away before you die. Few things upset loved ones more than learning that the deceased actually gave away certain items listed in his/her Will prior to dying. One way to avoid this problem is to revise your Will every few years;
  • State laws govern nearly every gift you’ll make using a Will or other legal documents. This holds true especially in regards to real property that’s located in another state or country. Keep in mind that the law only allows a testator to claim one legal place of residence – even though that person may own land or other property located elsewhere. If there’s any confusion about choosing your state of residence, you should base this upon such factors as:
  1. Where you register your vehicles
  2. Where you vote
  3. Where the majority of your property is located
  4. Where most of your financial or investment accounts are located
  5. Where your main home or physical residence is located
  6. Where you conduct most of your business – or warehouse your inventory
  • If you leave any of your property burdened with liens or mortgages, your beneficiaries will have to remove those encumbrances. Do try and remove all financial liens and other “holds” on property long before you die. Should you become seriously ill, ask your spouse or attorney to carefully review the records on all major properties to be sure they’re currently free of encumbrances;
  • Avoid trying to make direct financial gifts to your pets. It’s usually best to leave the money to a close friend who has promised to use it to care for your pet. In some states, however, you may be allowed to set up a trust account to benefit your pets.  This may help you avoid a Minnesota probate.  Contact the firm to find out more information about this legal process.

MN Probate Laws and Probate Lawyers

Contact the Flanders Law Firm today.  The firm offers estate planning and probate consultations to all potential clients. Call (612) 424-0398.

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