Estate Planning/Wills/Probate

Estate planning is a major step a person takes in their life to make sure their loved ones are taken care of in the event of their death. Estate planning can also include such tasks as establishing a power of attorney, drawing up health care directives, and going ahead and appointing an individual to administer the estate when the time comes. What this does is reduce the burden that your family will face if you become incapacitated or you pass away. During a time of grief, the last thing they want is to start fighting over who receives what and what your wishes are in regards to your medical treatment.

If you have not yet established an estate plan, now is the time. It is never too late to do such things as establish a will, trusts to protect assets, and directives so your family knows what to do when you cannot speak for yourself. Your Mankato estate planning lawyer will help you with this, ensuring that everything is in place. If your estate would go into probate, your attorney can also help your family through the probate process in order to reduce the frustrations and confusion that it produces.


The will is a very important document that outlines your wishes when you die. It is like a set of instructions for your loved ones. It outlines who you wish specific assets to go to. It may also specify who you want to take custody of your minor children if you need to specify a guardian. The will removes a burden from the family, but it is a contestable document. This means that it can be disputed whether or not you were of a sound mind when you signed it. Depending on when you had the will drawn up, it may or may not be disputed. A will also doesn’t keep your estate from going into probate. Only trusts can do that, which is something you may wish to discuss with your attorney in order to avoid probate.


The exact probate process can vary from case-to-case. The person who is named executor of the estate has the legal responsibility to manage the estate. This means an experienced Southern Minnesota estate planning lawyer is going to be needed to make the process easier.

The probate process is as follows:

  • The proper documents are filed with the court to commence administration
  • Beneficiaries and heirs are contacted
  • The tax ID for the estate is obtained
  • A bank account is opened for the estate
  • The estate assets are inventoried
  • Assets are sold, if necessary
  • The last income tax return of the deceased is filed
  • Federal and state estate tax returns are prepared
  • Fiduciary accounting is prepared
  • Assets are distributed
  • The documents that finalize probate are filed

This is a personal and difficult process. However, your attorney will give the guidance needed during this time so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact A Mankato Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Planning where your assets will go after your death will relieve a lot of their stress during their grieving period. You can also create wills, place assets and trusts to keep them out of probate, and have power of attorneys and health care directives drawn up so the burden on your family is lighter. You also have an attorney who will help you if you are the executor for a decedent whose estate has gone into probate.

No matter what and what side of the process you are on, you have an attorney who will work hard for you and who will relieve as much stress for you as possible. To find out more about what Birkholz Law, LLC will do for you, call the St. James office at 507-375-3374, the Mankato office at 507-387-2100, or the Westbrook office at 507-274-6501 to schedule a free consultation.