Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A will is a document that distributes your property upon your death, and generally requires court involvement by way of probate proceedings. A trust is an entity that holds your assets for the benefit of another during your lifetime and after you pass away. It allows for a seamless distribution of your assets after you pass away without court involvement.

What happens if I die without a will or trust?

If you die without a will or trust in Minnesota, your property will be distributed according to Minnesota’s intestate succession laws. For example, if you have a spouse and children, your property will go to them by a set formula. And if you die without a spouse, your property will go to your children and then your grandchildren. If you have no living children or grandchildren, then your property would go to your parents and so on.

What makes a will valid?

First, you, as the person making the will, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Second, the will must be in writing. Third, the will must be signed by you. Forth, the will must be witnessed by at least two people who also must sign the will. Finally, you must intend for the document to operate as a will.

I don’t own a lot of property / money / things of value, do I really need a will?

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, it's for everyone. Spalding Law Office  recommends that every adult over the age of 18 years old have at least a basic will. That way family and friends will know what your wishes are for the property you do have and they won’t have to guess. Additionally, if you have minor children, you will want to appoint a trusted adult as their guardian.

Is it true that if I have a will I can avoid probate?

Having a will does not avoid probate. In fact, it often means your estate will go through probate. However, the need for probate really depends on the amount of property you own, the type of property you own, and whether you own it alone or with others. For example, if your probate property is worth less than $75,000, your heirs may be able to collect your property without going through probate.



When should I create an estate plan?

Please contact Jennifer at Spalding Law Office, and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.