Estate Planner in Fargo, ND

Estate planning is a broad term used to describe the process of anticipating and arranging for your death or disability. More to the point, it is the process of taking care of yourself and the people you care about when you are unable to do it yourself.

Estate planning can be quite complicated and most choose to get personalized advice from an expert. It’s possible that one day you will acquire money where you are concerned about federal estate tax. It’s also possible that you might own a business in North Dakota and have questions about passing it along to someone else. Maybe you have questions about leaving money with a charity, creating a living will or even naming beneficiaries for an insurance policy or retirement account. Either way, you’ll want to speak with a lawyer.

North Dakota estate planners like Adam Wogsland use a variety of instruments to carry out the client’s wishes, including: simple wills, pour-over wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT), incentive or discretionary trusts, special needs trusts, pet trusts, gun trusts, durable power of attorney for financial matters, durable power of attorney for health care decisions, living wills, beneficiary designations, life estate deeds, transfer on death deeds, and joint tenant with right of survivorship deeds. Estate planning may also include efforts to decrease tax liability, transfer farms and other businesses, and avoid probate altogether.

Adam takes into account each client’s individual circumstances and drafts a comprehensive estate plan. If you need help planning your estate anywhere in North Dakota, call or email SW&L in Fargo for assistance with any of the following:

Probate

Probate is the process of resolving claims against a deceased person and distributing his or her remaining property. There are several technical aspects of probate administration, including: appointment of the personal representative, acceptance of the will, giving proper notice to creditors, making proper distributions, timing for claims and distributions, and tax issues. A personal representative owes fiduciary duties to interested persons, so it is important probate laws are followed.

Adam helps North Dakota clients through the probate process and helps minimize a personal representative’s risk of liability to interested persons. If you need help probating an estate or elder law and asset protection, call 701-297-2890 today.

Health Care Directives/Living Wills

Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for North Dakota doctors and caregivers if you’re terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.

When you plan ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.

Advance directives aren’t just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it’s important for all adults to prepare these documents. Contact Adam today for more information.

Wills

In the legal sense, you do not need a Will. In a practical sense, you may want one. It allows you to make certain decisions with the force of law. The main decisions you make with a Will are: (1) name the person(s) who are to receive your assets; (2) direct how person(s) are to receive your assets; (3) name the guardian of your minor children; and (4) name the person who administers your estate. If you do not have one, the state of North Dakota will make those decisions for you.

A Will also allows you to decide how a person receives your assets at your death. You may decide to give your property outright to another person. If assets are distributed outright, the person can do whatever he or she wants to with the asset. You may decide you want to keep supervision over or exercise some control over your assets. For example, you may want to keep your farmland in your family into the next generation. One option would be to create a testamentary trust within your Will so that your family may enjoy the benefits of the farmland without having the authority to sell the property. With a testamentary trust, the Trustee would follow your directions and administer the farmland for the benefit of your family. It also allows you some flexibility on how your assets are distributed to others. If you do not have one, the laws of intestate succession generally direct your property be distributed outright.

A Will allows you to decide who will be the legal guardian for your children after your death. A court will usually give deference to your choice. If you do not make this decision, someone may petition to be a legal guardian. There is a much greater chance of competing petitions or disagreements if you do not make this decision.

A Will allows you to decide who will administer your estate in probate. This person is called a Personal Representative (or sometimes referred to as an Executor). The Personal Representative pays your debts and carries out your wishes you have stated. Without a Will, State law dictates the order of priority for who will administer your estate.

A Will is just a piece of paper unless it meets certain legal requirements. Hiring Adam will give you piece of mind. This is just one part of your plan. Adam will also guide you and help you develop a comprehensive estate plan, and in doing so, will help you minimize administration costs, minimize the risk of disputes, and minimize taxes.

Trusts

At SW&L, we emphasize convenience and flexibility for our clients. For many individuals and families, a trust provides just that. With a trust, one can designate assets to be managed by a trustee for the benefit of only the individuals designated. This can protect assets from claims by creditors or in-laws.

Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney is a type of directive in which you name a person an attorney-in-fact to make your legal and/or financial decisions for you when you are unable to do so. The person you name may be a spouse, other family member, friend, or member of a faith community.

Choosing a person as your attorney-in-fact is important. You must determine the amount of power given to the person. The attorney-in-fact can be given the authority to address most of your legal and financial matters (“general power of attorney”), or they can be given the authority to handle only one particular issue (“specific power of attorney”).

You may also want to consider creating a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney serves the same function as a power of attorney.  However, this relationship remains effective if you become incapacitated.

You are never too young to have a power of attorney created. Unplanned circumstances can happen at any age, so it is vital for all adults to prepare these documents. Contact Adam or Jesse for more information.

Elder Law/Asset Protection

Asset protection planning is about protecting your assets from creditors. Anyone can get sued. Lawsuits can stem from car accidents, credit card debt, bank foreclosures, or unhappy customers, among many other things. If someone wins a monetary judgment against you, your family could become bankrupt trying to pay it off. To keep your assets away from creditors, you need to move them somewhere where creditors can’t reach them. Asset protection techniques include maximizing contributions to IRAs, moving funds to an irrevocable trust, re-titling various assets, or using limited liability companies or family limited partnerships are all possible options.

To develop an asset protection plan, you need to talk to Adam to discuss your short – and long-term financial goals. This will help him create a plan that will work for you.

It is important to note that asset protection planning only works if you act before you are sued. Under North Dakota law, you may not defraud current creditors. If you are already being sued or if you know you are going to be sued and you transfer assets so that creditors can’t reach them, the court will reverse the transfer. That is why it is a good idea to put a plan into place now. Call us to discuss elder law & asset protection further. If you’d like to speak with Adam, call SW&L Attorneys in Fargo at 701-297-2890 today.

Lawyer Adam Wogsland