Wills, Trusts, Transfer on Death Deeds, and Probate

img-feature2-hand-writingAs a lawyer, I often see a common misconception that having a will means your estate will avoid the timely and expensive probate process. Unfortunately, that is not true if there is real property in the decedent's name and that real property is not held in joint tenancy with another.

There are means though of dodging the probate process. The Transfer on Death Deed ("TODD") is relatively new to Minnesota, but a very useful estate planning tool. With a TODD, the subject real property passes to the person, or people, named in the TODD immediately upon the passing of the present owner.

Another very useful tool is a trust. In a trust situation, the real estate is owned in the name of the trust, not an individual. Given that a trust never "dies" the property remains in the trust until the trust decides to sell the real estate.

There is certainly much more to share on these topics, but estate planning is not as difficult or expensive as you may expect.

On the other hand, failure to put in place a comprehensive estate plan can cost your estate substantial time and money.

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