Estate Planning & Administration
The Law Office of Katherine L. MacKinnon offers comprehensive estate / incapacity planning and administration services. Our St. Paul estate planning and probate attorneys assist individuals and families throughout the Twin Cities with wills, trusts, financial and health care powers of attorney, long term care planning, Minnesota probate, and more.
We would be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs and goals. Learn more below about our services and what to expect when you work with us.
Estate Planning and Probate Services
Estate planning makes your wishes clear in the event of your death or incapacity (inability to act for yourself) and gives your loved ones the power and support to carry out those wishes. It means that you get to provide instructions for your end-of-life care and for distribution of your property and things. Estate planning is also a way to care for your family by ensuring that the legal processes after your death go as smoothly and easily as possible. Don’t leave your family to fight their way through the system alone while they are grieving or trying to make difficult health care decisions. When you come to our office, we can make a plan together that avoids expensive court procedures and reduces hassle to a minimum.
Your estate plan will include tools to manage end of life care or emergency circumstances. You can nominate people to act for you in your financial matters or healthcare decisions if you are unable to act for yourself. Feel secure knowing that your matters are in the hands of someone you chose and trust rather than someone nominated by court judges who don’t know you. Our estate planning attorney will help you choose the tools you need to protect your family.
We also help people who are overwhelmed by the process of carrying out their loved one’s wishes. We provide support for enacting power of attorney and health care directives or help you establish a guardianship and/or conservatorship if your elder is unable to manage their own care or money. If your loved one has died, we can help you probate their will, establish intestacy, or administer trusts. You don’t have to do it alone.
Wills (Last Will and Testament)
A will — sometimes called a Last Will and Testament — is a document that allows a person to transfer property held in the person’s own name after their death. A will does not distribute jointly held assets such as a jointly held checking account or jointly titled car. A will does not change the beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts. But a will can nominate a guardian for any minor children in the event of your death, leave particular items to particular people, and allow your loved ones to manage assets that were held in your name only. After the person’s death, a personal representative (executor) can probate the will and follow the instructions.
A trust is an agreement where one person, a trustee, holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts are established in documents that spell out the duties of the trustee and the rights of the beneficiary. Trusts are commonly used in estate planning to protect minor children who cannot manage money on their own, for tax planning purposes, to benefit the disabled, or to hold real estate located in another state. Trusts are private documents and do not become public information like a will that is probated.
Minnesota Estate Administration / Probate
After someone dies, their estate plan needs to be put into action. The personal representative files the will in Probate Court and begins the process of collecting the deceased’s assets, paying debts, figuring taxes, and distributing things according to instructions. The Minnesota probate process for a will generally takes six months to two years and has many steps. Some estate plans use a trust instead of a will to avoid the process.
Elder Law includes support services for the aging, those in long-term care, and the disabled. Services include Medicare planning, nursing home and home health care issues, and special needs or supplemental trusts.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that gives someone (the attorney-in-fact) written permission for them to handle property or money matters for you (the principal). You are still able to act for yourself, but the attorney-in-fact also has the power to act on your behalf. The attorney-in-fact should only act in the principal’s best interest and the principal may revoke the power at any time. A durable power of attorney is a helpful incapacity planning tool that would allow someone you choose to act for you if you can’t. If you become incapacitated and do not have a power of attorney, then a conservatorship must be established for you in court.
Health Care Directive
A healthcare directive is a document that lets you give information about your health care preferences and appoint a health care agent to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. If you become incapacitated and do not have a health care directive, then a guardianship must be established for you in court.
What is your firm’s estate planning process?
The Law Office of Katherine L. MacKinnon Estate Planning process includes:
1. An initial meeting to discuss your situation and your estate planning goals.
- We will send you an e-mail confirming your appointment date and time and you will receive a worksheet to complete.
- We will discuss what you want to get out of the estate planning process and go over various options.
- If we make a joint decision to move forward, we sign an engagement agreement outlining costs. A deposit of one half of the fees agreed are owed.
- We may ask you to gather further information needed to complete your documents.
2. We will send you draft copies of your estate planning documents for your review.
3. A document draft meeting.
- We will review the document drafts together and we will answer any questions and make note of any revisions.
4. A signing meeting.
- We meet at our office where you sign your documents and have them witnessed or notarized as necessary. Please bring a photo ID to this meeting.
- You bring your executed documents home with you with instructions for their use and storage.