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Estate Planning & Elder Law

Protecting assets from one generation to the next

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP are experienced and compassionate estate planning and elder law attorneys. Estate planning is providing for the care of your minor children and/or special needs beneficiaries while giving what you want to whom you want at the least cost possible while avoiding estate taxes and planning for incapacity. Elder law is protecting assets from medical assistance liens, lawfully transferring assets, and asset reduction strategies.

We help you understand and achieve your comprehensive estate planning goals

A comprehensive estate plan includes providing for the needs of your family during your life and also upon your death. Depending on your unique circumstances, your comprehensive estate plan will also include planning for the probability that you will need to utilize government benefits in your later years. Most often this planning is essential for individuals who do not qualify for long-term care insurance. The most important documents of any comprehensive estate plan are a power of attorney and health care directive. These documents are crucial during your life, and generally are invaluable in the event that you become incapacitated or incompetent. In addition, a health care directive allows your health care agent to implement your wishes upon your death for the type of event that you wish to have for your loved ones.


If your goal is to...

  • avoid probate, then you must have a trust and/or file a transfer on death deed for your real property and complete your beneficiary designations.
  • avoid estate taxes, then a trust must be created and/or gifting must be done.
  • avoid multiple ancillary probate proceedings for real estate owned in other states, you then must have a trust.
  • protect a child from himself or herself by stacking the timeframe in which they receive an inheritance (e.g., ½ at age 30, and the remainder at age 40), then you must create a trust.
  • provide that certain personal property (e.g., jewelry) is bequeathed to a specific person, you must provide for that in a will or trust (or through a specific personal property designation that complies with Minnesota law).
  • provide for the distribution of your assets upon your death, then you must have a typed will (handwritten wills are not valid in the state of Minnesota).
  • choose who gets your assets upon your death that is different than what Minnesota’s legislature has determined, then you must have a will (i.e., if you are not married and have no children, and you want your assets to go to your siblings, rather than your parents, if you do not have a will, your assets will go to your parents).
  • choose who raises your pets in the event of your death and provide for the financial needs of your pets, then you need a pet trust.
  • choose who raises your minor children in the event of your death creating a guardianship within a will must be used.
  • sell a low-basis asset without paying capital gains, benefit a charity, and have an income stream during your lifetime, then a charitable remainder or charitable lead trust must be created.
  • provide assets for the benefit of a disabled person, then a supplemental needs trust must be created.
  • keep the cabin in your family, the best way is possibly through the creation of a cabin trust.
  • avoid the surviving spouse from disinheriting your children from a previous relationship, then you must create what is commonly referred to as a QTIP trust.
  • provide for your grandchildren for a previously deceased child, then you must create a will or trust (otherwise, your grandchildren are essentially disinherited if you do not have a will or trust and instead your estate passes through intestate succession (meaning there is no will))
  • protect assets from a medical assistance lien and avoid improper uncompensated transfers, you must do the planning now (as there is a look-back period).
  • avoid your family going to court for a costly conservatorship or guardianship proceeding, you must have a health care directive and power-of- attorney.
  • allow your spouse (or child, etc.) to sign your name upon you becoming incapacitated or incompetent, you must have a power-of- attorney (without a power of attorney, no person has the authority to act on your behalf in the event of you becoming incapacitated or incompetent).
  • make your feelings known about what level of care you want in the event of a terminal illness, you need to have a health care directive.
  • allow your health care agent to make mental health decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself, then you need to have a health care directive that is witnessed by two individuals.


Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP are here to assist you in understanding your goals in planning your future, and your options to achieve your goals. Their extensive litigation background is helpful in spotting potential issues that you may not have considered. While most people do not wish to think about the inevitable happening, the best gift that you can provide your family and loved ones is to have a comprehensive estate plan put in place well before a crisis occurs. Doing so will allow your family to focus on those things that are important during their time of need rather than on compounding one crisis with another.

Do you need help with creating a comprehensive estate plan?