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Probate and Trust Section E- Newsletter

Spring Edition 2013



Message from the Chair

Dear Members:

Spring is now finally upon us which means the annual Probate and Trust Conference and Annual Meeting is approaching. The Probate and Trust Conference will be held June 10 - 11, 2013 at the St. Paul RiverCentre. I encourage your attendance as we discuss the most recent legal changes, hear from nationally recognized legal experts, and generally reconnect with one other. The end of 2012 brought about an unprecedented amount of activity within the tax and estate planning area. Perhaps more so than in any other year, clients clearly saw the value in thoughtful, proactive planning. I am confident that our members took great care in guiding their clients through this uncertain time by providing appropriate and ethical legal advice. The Probate and Trust Conference will be an excellent time to discuss our 2012 experiences.

Wills For Heroes is quickly approaching 7,500 free estate plans for Minnesota's First Responders. Congratulations and thank you to all our members who have volunteered for a truly wonderful organization (

Thank you for your membership and I look forward to seeing you at the Probate and Trust Conference and Annual Meeting on June 10-11, 2013.

Thomas J. Woessner


Statutory Presumptions May Not Apply
Examining In re Stisser Grantor Trust and the Implications for Revocable Trust Language

By Emma Maddy

MINN. STAT. §§ 524.2-601 to 524.2-609 provide a default set of interpretations for the language used in Minnesota wills. Unless the drafting attorney includes language to the contrary, these statutes provide interpretations for things such as what property can be passed via will, antilapse provisions, how and when ademption occurs, and testamentary exercises of a power of appointment, among others. This statutory language acts as a default backdrop in drafting wills, and is incorporated into the basic presumptions used when drafting wills. These presumptions are so basic, a drafter may not realize that it is possible they will not apply to an inter vivos trust, used often as a will substitute.
Read more...  

1099 Trouble on the Horizon? Cancellation of Debt Income in Insolvent Estates

By Susanne “Anne” Starr Goodman

Sanctuary from debt – that's what's promised by the property exemptions and allowances of the Uniform Probate Code, as adopted by Minnesota at Sections 524.2-402 thru 404. Homestead, a car, family allowance and $10,000 worth of personal property (or cash, if there's insufficient property) are exempted from general creditors for the spouse, minor children, and, with some limits, adult children. The sanctuary has never been entirely weatherproof – for example, exempt property has always been subject to valid charges against it. But, recently the protection has taken a beating. The right of counties to satisfy medical assistance claims with exempt property has significantly reduced the value of the exemptions. And now, there is another threat on the horizon: cancellation of debt income.

Estate Planning for the Digital Afterlife

By Letty M-S Van Ert, Esq.

Many of our clients are accumulating online assets such as photos, music, and books as fast as, or perhaps faster than they are accumulating “tangible” assets.  In addition, the last decade or so has ushered in an era where many of our clients have online identities resulting from social networking sites and online banking services.  One has to wonder what happens to a person’s digital assets and online identity when he or she dies.


Financial Scams on the Elderly

By Derrick Doerr

People are generally living much longer than they used to due to advancements in medical technology, better nutrition, and general higher standards of living.  As a result, an elderly person today needs to plan for a much longer retirement period, and thus, figure out how to generate much more retirement income than he or she would’ve had to say, thirty or forty years ago.  If trying to generate more retirement income wasn’t challenging enough, there are some unscrupulous individuals and companies using predatory techniques to take advantage of the elderly and sell them financial products and/or services which they do not need.  This article will point out a few of these predatory techniques and instruct you on how to handle them.


Heir Search Firms

By James Crist & Monica Lewis

The “Heir Search Firm” has been a valuable player in the world of probate administration for many years. How many long-lost third cousins have been pleasantly surprised by an inheritance from a family member in Minnesota that they have never met or heard of? And all through the efforts of an heir search firm using sophisticated databases and years of experience capable of finding anyone anywhere. Unfortunately, heir search firms can also appear in a probate case as predatory unwanted strangers. Consider these two stories.


Portability is Here to Stay.  Now What?

By Douglas S. Wolgamot

2012 was a banner year for estate planning in large part due to the fear that a $1,000,000 federal estate tax exemption would tumble into place when we fell over the fiscal cliff.  When Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”) shortly after the new year, it maintained the unification of the federal estate tax, gift tax, and generation skipping transfer tax (“GST” tax).  The exemption is set at $5,250,000 for 2013, indexed for inflation, with a top rate of 40%.  ATRA also continued portability of a deceased spouse’s federal estate tax exemption.  The $5,250,000 exemption is referred to as the “basic exclusion amount.”

Newsletter Editors:

David Joyslin

Jen Santini

If you have any questions about the publication or would like to submit an
article for a future issue, please contact either David or Jen.

Upcoming Events

Probate and Trust Conference and Annual Meeting
June 10-11, 2013




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Minnesota State
Bar Association
600 Nicollet Mall
Suite 380
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Contact us
(612) 333-1183
(800) 882-6722

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