Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys
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The Documents You Need In Your Estate Plan

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Attorneys are notorious for talking down to their clients and using “legalese”. Legalese is like a foreign language to their clients. I never understood the psychology behind “legalese” when communicating with a client. Maybe the thought is that if they use fancy words their clients don’t understand, they’ll seem really smart. Anyway, I’m going to get really simple for you.

An “Estate Plan” is an overall big picture plan of what is going to happen to you, your assets and your family when you die. See, that wasn’t so bad (except the death part).

Estate Plans are generally made up of the following:

  • Will or Trust
  • If a Trust, then a Pour-Over-Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Directive
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Waiver
  • Disposition Instructions

Don’t you worry. I’ll break that all down for you in layman’s terms.


First, let’s talk about wills. You might be thinking, “Well duh, of course I know what a will is”, but, maybe you don’t. A will is a document that outlines your wishes on the distribution of your assets after death. It gives a judge in probate court an idea of what your intentions were.

Nearly every prospective client who calls my office tells me, “I need a will”. When we meet for our face-to-face consultation I ask them, “Why do you want a will? What is it you’re hoping to accomplish?” Nine times out of ten their response is, “I want to avoid probate”. Listen closely folks! A WILL ENSURES YOUR ESTATE GOES TO PROBATE!

That’s right. If you choose a Will-Based Estate Plan, your estate will go through the probate court process. You won’t believe how many jaws drop when I let them in on the unfortunate news. I’ve had clients challenge me on this. Rest assured, I am a Minnesota probate attorney and nearly every case I file for probating involves a neatly designed will that is properly executed by the Testator (person creating the will).

So, the bottom line is: if you don’t want your Twin Cities estate to go through probate court, a Will-Based Estate Plan is NOT for you. You need a Minnesota trust attorney.


A Trust is an alternative to a Will. A Trust is a legal document that outlines your intentions for the distribution of your assets at death or in the event of incapacity. The Trust is designed to keep your estate out of probate court and your family out of conflict. Because a trust is designed to keep your estate out of court, your affairs (creditors, value of assets, property and debts) will remain private. Trust should always be customized. Hire a top-rated Minneapolis/St. Paul area Estate Planning attorney who specializes in trusts to ensure your family’s needs are met.

Pour-over Will

A pour over will is a will of a person made in conjunction with a trust in which all property is to be distributed or managed upon the death of the person whose possessions are in trust, leaving all property to the trust. A pour over will is a safety measure designed to protect any assets which somehow were not included in the trust and make them assets of the trust upon the Grantor’s (person making the trust) death.

Power Of Attorney

The Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another person the power to act in specified financial matters. Essentially, this means that if you become incapacitated or are unable to manage your financial obligations, the person you designate as your Power of Attorney will take over for you to make sure your children’s tuition is paid, your creditors don’t come after you and you still have a house to live in when you get out of the hospital.

Healthcare Directive

A Healthcare Directive is a legal document that informs others of your wishes with respect to your health care. Clients may specify their preference regarding life support, feeding tubes, brain death, number of doctor opinions needed and more. The documents are given to medical providers to ensure your wishes are met.

Healthcare Power Of Attorney

The Healthcare Power of Attorney is a legally designated agent who assists in making healthcare decisions for you in the event that you can’t make them yourself.

Hipaa Waiver

HIPAA is a healthcare privacy law. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Basically, a HIPAA Waiver is a legal document that allows your health information to be used or released to a third party. The HIPAA Waiver is necessary so that if you can’t make healthcare decisions for yourself, your designated Healthcare Power of Attorney has the insight on what is going on with you medically and isn’t left in the dark about your prognosis while trying to act upon your wishes.

Disposition Instructions

Disposition Instructions are better known as burial and funeral instructions. In the Disposition Instructions, the client can specify whether they wish to be buried or cremated, if they want a religious ceremony, a celebration of life or something else. They can determine if they want an open casket visitation or closed casket. Heck, they can get as specific as who will speak and what music will be played. The sky is the limit!

Now you have a better understanding of the legal jargon that makes up a comprehensive “Estate Plan”. Make the right move: get all your estate planning documents in place by working with Estate Planning Lawyer Lisa Haster and her team so you can get your Minnesota Will and/or Twin Cities Trust docs put together.

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