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10.31.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

It’s that time of the year again, Halloween. With that brings trick-or-treating, costume parties, visits to the pumpkin farm, haunted houses, and scary movies. These things don’t necessarily trigger thoughts about estate planning, but it is a great time of year to remind people of horror stories that can transpire from not having a proper estate plan in place.

Most people I meet with regarding estate planning tell me they have a “simple estate,” “everyone gets along,” “there won’t be any issues,” or “we don’t need those documents because we have all talked about what will happen.” My usual response is, “I would love to show you all the files of people who said the same things and then because they didn’t have adequate estate plans, left scary situations for their families to navigate.”

Some nightmares I have seen develop from improper estate plans include:

  • Using a health care directive in lieu of a Will, which lead to a family dispute over who should receive assets;
  • Telling a child he would get the family cabin (because “we talked to our kids about it”) but not putting it into writing, leading to years of litigation;
  • Writing changes/edits on a Will (rather than executing a Codicil), thereby invalidating the document because it could not be determined who actually wrote on it; and
  • Creating a Revocable Trust but not actually funding the Trust with assets, thereby forcing the family to do a costly probate.

We often hear about celebrities and the battles that ensue after their deaths. The horror stories that develop from these situations should give everyone cause to update their estate plan.

  • Here in Minnesota, we are all aware of Prince’s situation. Prince died intestate in 2016, meaning without a will or trust. Many people came forward to claim the estate as Prince’s heir or as a creditor. As of the writing of this blog, the probate case in Carver County is still open. This has cost the Estate thousands, if not millions, of dollars. A will or trust identifying who his heirs were would have saved lots of attorney time and dollars.
  • Larry King died in 2021. Two years prior to his death, he wrote a note that he wanted his estate divided between his children. A battle ensued between his wife (from whom he was divorcing) and his children. This horror story situation can often develop between a surviving spouse and stepchildren if estate planning is not done properly. Years and years of costs and litigation can result.
  • Marilyn Monroe is a horror story of not taking tax planning into account when she prepared her estate plan. Her probate took 39 years, and half of her estate was paid to the IRS in estate taxes, not to mention the person administering the estate made over $30 million.

This is, of course, just a brief look at scary situations that can develop from improper or no estate planning. Knowing these horror stories should give everyone a reason to start their estate planning or check if their current plans need a refresh.

If these estate horror stories have spooked you into working on your estate plan, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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Navigating Divorce – A Panel Discussion

10.06.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Is it time for a change in your life? Divorce can be a challenging journey, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you’re considering divorce, join us for a free live panel discussion and get your questions answered by a team of experienced professionals.

Date: Thursday, October 26th  
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM  
Location: Plymouth Community Center – Birch Room  
Address: 14800 34th Ave N, Plymouth, MN 55447  
Refreshments Provided

Join Henningson & Snoxell, LTD family law attorney Jennifer M. Nixon and a panel that includes a financial professional, family therapist, divorce coach, and divorce mortgage expert.

Space is limited; reserve your spot today at Eventbrite or Meetup. It’s time to take the first step towards a brighter future.

Don’t let the uncertainties of divorce keep you spinning. Empower yourself with knowledge and support from compassionate professionals. We’ll see you there!

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Coming Soon: Minnesota Retirement Program

10.05.2023 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

The Minnesota Secure Choice Retirement Program Act (the “Program”) establishes a retirement savings program available to state residents employed by covered employers (those with five or more employees who do not already have a retirement program in place). Under the Program, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) will be established for eligible employees to fund with a portion of their paycheck.

Program Features:

  • Participation in the Program is mandatory for employers that do not currently sponsor their own workforce retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan, or those who have not sponsored one in the 12 months prior to the “Mandatory Implementation” date.
  • Employers are not required to contribute to their employees’ retirement plan.
  • “Covered Employees” include any employee of a covered employer who is at least 18 years old and satisfies any other criteria that may be established by the Program’s Board of Directors.
  • Employees can:
    • elect whether their contributions will be pre-tax or post-tax (Roth)
    • change their contribution rate
    • opt out of participation entirely
  • Employers must provide Program Information to all covered employees (the Program Information required has not yet been made available by the State).
  • Annual limits on contributions to an account under this Program will mirror the Federal IRA limits which are subject to annual adjustments. For 2023, these limits are $6,500 for individuals under the age of 50 and $7,500 for individuals over the age of 50.
  • The Program is set to begin on or after January 1, 2025. The Board of Directors will meet on March 1, 2024, to establish administrative procedures for the Program.

Program Governance: Board of Directors

The Program will be administered by a Board of Directors comprised of seven (7) members: the executive director of the Minnesota State Retirement System; the executive director of the State Board of Investment; three (3) members chosen by the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement with retirement plan expertise; one (1) private-sector member (appointed by the Governor) with plan administration experience; and one (1) small business owner (appointed by the Governor).

Note to Employers:

This means additional requirements for you including, but not limited to, withholding contributions from payroll, remitting the withheld contributions to the program, ensuring all necessary information is provided to employees, etc. So, be sure to pay close attention when this Program becomes effective as civil penalties will be imposed for compliance failures.

We do our best to keep employers updated so that you can make informed decisions as you operate your business. For now, there is no requirement that you implement anything. But if you have any questions or concerns about this Program and what it may mean for your business, please feel free to reach out. A member of our team would be happy to guide you through this change.

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