READ PREVIOUS QUESTIONS & ANSWERS BELOW:

Q
What is a will?
AA will is a legal document that allows you to transfer your property at your death.

A will is a simple way to ensure that your money, property and personal belongings will be distributed as you wish after your death. A will also allows you to have full use of your property while you are alive.

Q
Does Everyone Need a Will?
AThe law does not require that you have a will. However, a will is a useful tool that provides you with the ability to control how your estate will be divided.
If you die without a will, Minnesota’s inheritance laws will control how your estate will be divided. Your property will go to your closest relatives. If you have a spouse and children, the property will go to them by a set formula. If not, the property will descend in the following order: grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters, or more distant relatives if there are no closer ones. A table of Minnesota Heirship is available here.

You may not need a will if you have made provisions so that your assets will pass without one, for example, by establishing trusts, life insurance policies with named beneficiaries, or joint property interests such as real estate or bank accounts.
A will is necessary if you want to leave property to a friend or a charity, to give certain items to certain people, or to leave someone out who would otherwise inherit from you. You may also wish to appoint a specific person to handle your estate. Thus, often it is best to write a will so your intentions can be met.

Q
What Is Probate?
A Probate is the legal process of settling your estate in court after you die. Your property is gathered and inventoried, your debts are paid, and everything left over is divided among your heirs. Your personal representative is responsible for “probating” your will. If you have no will or did not name a personal representative, the court will appoint one for you.
Probating a will begins by filing an application with the probate court. Probate ends when all debts and taxes are paid and all assets are distributed. If there is disagreement over your will, a probate judge will resolve the differences.
Q
When Is Probate Necessary?
AProbate laws in Minnesota apply to the estates of people who were residents of Minnesota at the time of their death. Probate also applies to other states’ residents who own real property in Minnesota.

Having a will does not avoid probate. The need for probate depends on what property you own and whether you own it alone or with others.

Q
What Is A Trust?
AA trust manages the distribution of your assets. A trust is created by the transfer of property by the owner (sometimes called the “grantor,” “donor,” or “settlor”) to another person (the trustee). A trustee can be a professional with financial knowledge, a relative or friend, or a professional trust company. The trustee holds the title to the property and manages the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries who may be a specific person, a group of people, or an organization.
Q
What Are the Basic Types of Trusts?
AThere are two basic types of trusts. A “testamentary” or “after-death trust” is created by the settlor’s will which transfers property to the trust. A “living” or “intervivos” trust is created during the lifetime of the grantor when all or part of the grantor’s property is transferred into the trust.

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