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house - iStockWe’ve said before that Minnesota is not a favorable state in which to die because of the state’s estate tax laws. Some believe that the same is true for other tax reasons as well. While Minnesota does offer a lot to its residents, which attracts them to make Minnesota their home, there are people who are opting to move out of the state and change his or her residency.

A lot of people think they can just change their driver’s license to another state and/or their mailing address to establish residency elsewhere. However, there are a lot of steps to take to effectively make the change. The MN Department of Revenue follows a list of criteria to determine whether someone has established permanent residency other than in Minnesota. The MN Department of Revenue evaluates the following factors1:

  1. Homestead Status
  2. The location of your home
  3. The address where mail is received
  4. Present status of former living quarters (is it sold, rented, etc.?)
  5. Status of insurance and information provided to the insurance company about a person’s residency
  6. The amount of time you spend in Minnesota
  7. The location of your bank accounts
  8. Where you qualify for unemployment insurance
  9. The state where you filed your previous resident tax returns
  10. The state where you earn your wages
  11. Where you are registered to vote
  12. Which state issued your driver’s license
  13. Where your vehicles are registered
  14. Where you keep your vehicles
  15. Where you maintain professional licenses
  16. The location of your fraternal, social or athletic memberships
  17. Where you maintain union memberships
  18. The location of your place of worship
  19. Where you qualify for in-state tuition
  20. Where your children or spouse attend school
  21. Whether you can be claimed as a dependent on another person’s federal income tax return and that person’s state of residence
  22. Where your spouse or dependents reside

Additionally, if you are a resident of a state other than MN, you may still be taxed as a MN resident if you spend at least 183 days in Minnesota. In calculating the 183 days, any portion of a day that is spent in Minnesota (e.g. 1-hour) will count as spending the entire day in Minnesota. So even if you have met most of the factors listed above, if you spend at least 183 days in MN you might be considered a full-year Minnesota resident.

If you have changed your residency from Minnesota to another state, or wish to do so in the future, it is advisable to consult with the proper professional advisor to confirm that you have taken, or will take, the necessary steps to effectively establish your permanent residency elsewhere.

1 Minnesota Department of Revenue Residency Fact Sheet

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Death with Dignity

by Kim Prchal on October 15, 2014

Free iStock PhotoBrittany Maynard, an Oregon resident, selected the date November 1, 2014 as the day she will end her life. Brittany is 29 years old, and was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She is plagued with seizures and increasing pain and her most recent diagnosis gave her only six more months to live.
Instead of waiting to die, Brittany has taken the matter in her own hands. She and her family moved to Oregon so she could access the State’s Death with Dignity Act (DWDA), enacted in 1997. The Act allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. As of January 22, 2014, a total of 1,173 Oregonians have had DWDA prescriptions written and 752 patients have died from ingesting medications prescribed under DWDA.

Oregon has specific requirements that people must meet prior to being prescribed DWDA medications. Residents must be 18 years of age or older, capable of making and communicating health care decisions, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months.

There are only three states (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont) that have enacted Death with Dignity laws. Montana and New Mexico have similar laws, and bills have been introduced in seven other states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania).

In July, Jamie Held wrote an article regarding Euthanasia. However, it should be noted that Brittany’s use of DWDA prescriptions is different than Euthanasia. Euthanasia is defined as the act of painlessly but deliberately causing the death of another who is suffering from an incurable, painful disease or condition. It’s commonly through lethal injection. This differs from the DWDA because the person is administering the prescriptions themselves and there is no injection involved.

So how do you die with dignity here in Minnesota? Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.215, both Euthanasia and DWDA efforts remain unlawful here in Minnesota. However, the statute does reference the choices people have regarding life-sustaining treatments. People can make choices to refuse life-sustaining treatment via an advanced health care directive and his or her decisions will be upheld.
If you have particular thoughts regarding your own end of life care, contact an attorney in your area to discuss an advanced health care directive.

 

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Chalkboard - iStockUnfortunately no matter how close a family might seem, it always has the potential to endure disputes between members either during everyone’s lifetimes or after someone has passed away. The fights can get ugly and feelings can get hurt. But often the disputes could have easily been avoided, or resolved, if individuals remembered the lessons they learned in kindergarten.

If you are the “lucky” individual nominated to be the estate administrator – either as a personal representative, trustee or main contact individual for the family – remember that you essentially control the situation and should start the administration process on a (relatively) positive note with the other interested parties. Certainly, the other interested parties – such as the beneficiaries and/or estate creditors – can get in the way and can make the administration more difficult purely through the differences in personalities. But you can hopefully avoid some conflicts down the road if you remember to follow the rules of administering an estate, which are governed by state statutes or the decedent’s Will or Trust.

Regardless of whether you are the estate administrator or beneficiary keep these five simple rules in mind to hopefully avoid conflict and the possibility of alienating close loved ones for years to come.

1. Be Kind

The cliché of “treat others how you would want to be treated” and conversely, “do not treat others how you would not like to be treated” really should govern every interaction you have one others throughout an estate administration. It does not matter if you are interacting with the beneficiaries of the estate, estate administrator, attorneys, court, or creditors of the estate, overall, be kind to one another. You do not necessarily have to like everyone – but treat people with respect and kindness. This can go a long way if a conflict does arise.

2. Communicate Effectively

When parties are communicating with one another, remember to do so effectively. At the risk of sounding condescending, act as adults and use your words. State your issues, questions and claims clearly and try to not let emotions get in the way.

As an estate administrator you have to deal with a lot of parties – creditors, beneficiaries, and other nosy relatives. But remember that as the estate administrator, since you are in control, you always know the status of the administration and the issues that have to be resolved before the estate can be distributed. At times, whether it is required or not, it would behoove you to keep interested parties in the loop so that they are not left wondering if things are being handled properly. Consider relaying how decisions were made, the process that you may have taken to get to a decision, why you believe it was the best decision at the time and how the decision will impact others involved with the estate. If you are proactively transparent with interested parties, you can often manage to head off unwarranted (and unwanted) complaints.

Additionally, if you are a beneficiary, remember that you would not want your actions to constantly be questioned or face accusations of wrongdoing. Being the estate administrator is a tough, and frankly thankless, job and unless you truly have reason to suspect wrongdoing, give the estate administrator the benefit of the doubt until it is necessary to suspect otherwise. However, if you feel as though you are not receiving proper and timely updates from the estate administrator, contact him or her and let your concerns be known. When doing so, convey your message once and allow ample time for the estate administrator to respond appropriately before inundating him or her with complaints.

Interactions between parties should of course always be respectful and appropriate, which brings me to the next lesson…

3. Listen

Remember to listen to others! A large part of effective communication is knowing when it is appropriate to listen to the other parties. In estate administrations, emotions can certainly run high and parties (despite the advice above) will react out of strong emotions and hurt feelings. Estate administrations occur because someone has passed away and therefore, parties should address one another with kindness and sympathy given that everyone deals with grief differently. Try to recognize when someone just needs to vent or work through his or her emotions and acknowledge the feelings they are experiencing (regardless of whether you agree with them or not) without judgment or interruption.

4. Share

This could be one of the harder lessons for people to adopt because often parties will hold firm on what they believe they are entitled to. However, if parties were more willing to compromise with another they would ultimately discover that they are not giving up as much as they originally thought. Estates should certainly be administered according to the decedent’s wishes either through the terms of the Will or Trust Agreement. Unfortunately, certain gifts and bequests can be ambiguous and a determination must be made as to the ultimate distribution of a particular asset. Again, if people are more willing to compromise and settle on an agreeable distribution, when faced with this situation, they most likely will find they will receive more than if they decide to take the issue to court, which takes time and eats up estate assets.

5. Play Fair

As mentioned above, estate administrations involve a lot of emotional baggage, which means that parties should not prey on one another’s feelings. Focus on the matters at hand and address the issues that arise when they arise. Do not use the time to air your grievances from decades ago and dig up old family drama that should be buried in the past. Estate administrations are not the time to equalize the family playing fields of sibling rivalries and competing attentions. At the end of the day, try to celebrate the life of the decedent and honor his or her wishes.

If parties can remember these few simple rules – that we all were taught in kindergarten –an estate should be able to be successfully administered efficiently and effectively.

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Cyber Attacks: It’s no longer “if” it will happen, but “when” it will happen

by Geoff Engelhart September 29, 2014 Business

The vast majority of us are not running international, Fortune 500 operations. We are leading, or working with, small to mid-sized businesses. With that comes the false sense of security that cyber thieves aren’t targeting […]

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Cabin LLCs: The Basics

by Jayne Sykora September 25, 2014 Business

For many, cabins provide an opportunity to get away from it all, to spend time with family and friends (maybe beside a body of water) and decompress from daily life. Unfortunately, cabins can also cause […]

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Have you reported your offshore funds?

by Jennifer Santini September 17, 2014 Investments & Insurance

If you are a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or certain nonresident alien, you are required to report any foreign financial assets that meet the reporting threshold to the IRS. There are different filing requirements and […]

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What are a surviving spouse’s debt obligations?

by Jamie Held September 11, 2014 Probate

Awhile back, an article in the Star Tribune discussed the egregious practices used by some credit card companies and banks to collect debts owed by deceased persons, often targeting surviving family members who may or […]

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Dividing Up Your Estate at Your Death

by Jayne Sykora September 9, 2014 Estate Planning 101

For some, as they prepare their Wills, it is a pretty clear cut decision on who will receive what and how much. For example, most married couples with children will first leave everything to each […]

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After Hours with Diana Ringuette

by Jayne Sykora September 3, 2014 After Hours

Name: Diana (Marianetti) Ringuette Employer: Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP Position: Attorney Location: Minneapolis Education: Hamline University School of Law (J.D., cum laude), Macalester College (B.A.) How long have you been practicing? I’ve been […]

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After Hours with Philip J. Ruce

by Jennifer Santini August 28, 2014 After Hours

Name: Philip J. Ruce Employer: Stone Arch Law Office, PLLC Position: Attorney Location: Minneapolis Education: University of Minnesota (B.A.), William Mitchell College of Law (J.D.), Thomas Jefferson School of Law (LL.M.) How long have you […]

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Godparents & Guardians: Two Different Roles

by Jayne Sykora August 22, 2014 Estate Planning 101

I often hear in conversation (and I once believed this too!) that if a minor child has godparents, then the same people will be legal guardians of the child if something happens to the child’s […]

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