NO OTHER LAW FIRM
We recognize that you’ve worked hard for your wealth (whether large or small, monetary or intangible) and that it’s important to you to be able to pass that wealth along to your loved ones. That's why we work with Minnesota Settlors, Grantors, trustees and beneficiaries to protect inheritances. If you're putting together your Will and Last Testament, give us a call. We will guide you through all of your estate needs.
Even at many of the most prestigious Minneapolis and St. Paul law firms, the estate planning needs of clients are not always realized. This can result in a loss of the client’s wealth or the client’s intentions not being carried out.
This may occur for a couple of reasons:
1) The attorneys are using an outdated “template” estate plan. Your family’s name is simply substituted for the Smith family whose estate plan was completed last week. They use a one size fits all “OSFA” estate plan for every client.
2) The lawyers are overlooking gaps that occur with OSFA estate planning. They don’t consider “what if” scenarios that can come up during the life and after the death of a client.
What are the consequences of a template OSFA estate plan?
Consider two estate planning clients:
William and Suzanne. William is a single divorced dad who is 40 years old, has 150K in assets, and is the father to a 10 year old son. Suzanne is 62, retired and is currently happily married to her second husband. She has adult children from 2 separate marriages and she and her husband have 2.1M in assets.
William came to our office because his #1 priority is protecting his son. He wants to ensure that if something happens to him, the guardian who raises his son has the same values, lifestyle and child-rearing characteristic as William. He wants to make sure that his money will be available to the guardian to support his son and that it will not be caught up in a delayed probate process should William become incapacitated or die. Finally, he wants to know that his son will not receive the distribution of his inheritance outright in full at age 18. Rather, it is important to William to place conditions on the distributions to his son at various ages, commencing upon graduation from college.
Suzanne came to our office because she was interested in keeping her blended family out of conflict and out of court upon the death of she and her husband. She was also looking to hire a top rated lawyer to protect the assets that she and her husband had acquired (from creditors, bankruptcy, divorce and lawsuits). Finally, she was looking for a way to reduce the taxes on their estate.
At this point it is probably clear: William and Suzanne have none of the same estate planning needs. A OSFA plan makes absolute no sense. In the cases of William and Suzanne, a OSFA plan is unlikely to carry out the intentions of the clients or serve the needs of their intended beneficiaries.
Let’s say for example, that William and Suzanne were both advised to create a Will-based (Last Testament and Will) estate plan (which is very common). What could be the consequences?
Depending on the plan and the scenarios overlooked, the following could happen to William:
His son is taken out of the home, into custody and is placed with authorities until a family member can be reached and a guardian is appointed.
The matter goes to probate court and a guardian who may or may not be the one he intended to look after his son, is appointed to raise his son.
The assets from his estate are sold, creditors are paid and the remaining funds are finally available to the guardian in order to raise his son 12-18 months after William’s death.
A trustee is appointed by the court and the assets from William’s estate that were intended to fund his son’s upbringing, are used to pay the trustee for his/her services.
Now consider what could be the consequences of the recommended Will-based estate plan for Suzanne and her husband:
Upon the death of she and her husband, their estate would become public record. All creditors, assets and debts are revealed.
The estate would go through probate court.
Suzanne’s children from either marriage and her husband’s children from another marriage could bring a claim/s against the estate.
35% of the value of their estate would go to the federal government to pay estate taxes.
Additionally, the state of MN would tax the estate.
Suzanne and her husband’s children receive their inheritance but that inheritance is at risk to creditor’s, bankruptcy, lawsuit and divorce.
With proper estate planning, all of the above scenarios are avoidable. You’ll ask yourself, “Well then, isn’t the OSFA template plan malpractice?” The reality is that it is not.
The one size fits all template practice, is the most common practice and its inadequacies are often not revealed until after the client’s death; when the family needs it most. That’s why we practice legal transparency by making sure your plan is customized and that you understand how it will work for you when your family needs it.