Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for Minnesota residents. There are a number of factors that make the process unique for each individual, and one of them is whether or not the person has children. In cases where a person is making an estate plan and has children, he or she will commonly make a number of bequests to the children and in some cases will name one of the kids as executor of the will. In cases where the person does not have children, the decisions might be more difficult, but the estate planning process is just as important.
An important point in any estate plan is incapacity. Many people choose to establish durable powers of attorney or advanced health care directives to take care of financial, medical and legal decision-making in the event they become incapacitated. These instruments allow people to decide who will make important choices on their behalf. Without them, not even their spouses are entitled to make certain decisions on their behalf.
It is in the best interests of many people to create trusts as part of their estate plans, whether or not they have children. Trusts can be used to manage assets during the person's life and they can be a kind of will substitute on death. The main advantages of trusts are that they allow for private giving and they avoid the probate process.
Probate is the process the courts use to distribute certain assets when a person dies. Trusts can in many cases avoid probate court altogether. A lawyer who practices estate planning and administration law might be able to help interested parties establish a customized estate plan that addresses incapacity or includes one or more trusts.