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February 2013 Archives

Personal Property Lists

After a loved one passes away, emotions about personal property run high. For example, prior to grandma's death, no one cared about that olive green casserole dish. However, the moment she passed away it became a testament to her delicious goulash. So, how do we avoid family wrangling over personal property? We don't want to include a list of every item of clothing or other personal property in our wills, because every time we get a new piece of furniture, we would have to redo our will. Fortunately, properly referencing a list of items in your will can avoid this situation.Creating a list of your tangible personal property and designating the recipient of the property will help direct distribution. You’ll need to meet certain requirements, including that you have a will, but you have the advantage that you can direct the distribution of items in that list without needing to update your will. The list may be created before or after the will. You can update or change the list as often as you want and can include almost any sort of tangible property—large or small—including items such as pets, vehicles, or that famous casserole dish and recipe.If you need help creating an estate plan or have questions about how you can create a list for distribution, please stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.


Oftentimes it’s important to folks with estates worth less than a million dollars to avoid probate (the major concern being the cost and delay of the probate).To avoid probate, their assets must be set up as non-probate assets such as (a) designated beneficiary on life insurance policies and retirement benefits, and (b) bank accounts, CD’s, and investment accounts that are either joint, or payable or transferred on death to designated parties.Historically, real estate assets were a problem.Several years ago the legislature enacted a law that allows for a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) for real estate which works like the POD or TOD for bank accounts, CD’s, and investment accounts. A deed, using the TODD form, is signed by the owner/owners of the real estate transferring the real estate to designated heirs. The deed is then recorded with the County Recorder’s office. However, it is not effective until the death of the owner/owners; and prior to death, the owner/owners can revoke the TODD, and can sell or mortgage the property without the involvement of the heirs.Upon the death of the owners, the real estate passes to the heir without the necessity of a probate.In the right situation, the TODD deed is an excellent estate planning tool. For more information, stop in or call us at (320) 763-3141.

Workplace Violence

The family of a victim in the Accent Signage workplace shooting incident has sued the company. The case may cause some to question how a company could be held responsible for the heinous act of an employee. One answer is that under Minnesota law, employers can be held legally liable for negligently supervising or retaining employees.

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