After Hours with Gretchen Baker

/ July 17, 2012
  • Name:  Gretchen Baker
  • Employer:  Baker Law Firm
  • Position:  Attorney
  • Location:  5200 Willson Road, Suite 150, Edina, MN 55424
  • Education:  Boston College ‘97, William Mitchell College of Law ‘07

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing since October, 2007.

What led you to practice in the area of estate planning?

I have observed close friends and family member experience the loss of a loved one and witnessed their frustration when they discovered an appropriate estate plan was never put in place.

What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning?

One of the biggest myths about an estate planning tool is that a trust is only useful for a wealthy individual.  On the contrary, there are many types of trusts that are useful for specific needs, regardless of one’s wealth.

What is your favorite aspect of helping individuals create their estate plan?

I enjoy communicating the legal complexities associated with estate planning in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

When do you recommend that an individual start thinking about his or her estate plan?

I recommend that an individual start the estate planning process when a “big” event occurs in their life such as marriage, birth of a child, or purchase of real estate.  However, the most important factor to consider is if an individual is ready to start thinking about significant decisions that are incorporated in an estate plan such as guardian and trustee selection.

What is a best piece of advice that you share with clients as they think about their estate plan?

I recommend to clients that they should spend time making thoughtful and informed decisions about the information included in the estate plan.  However, I remind each client that many terms in the estate plan may be later modified, if circumstances change.

Any interesting anecdotes?

I think it’s interesting when the estate planning process and the decisions required to complete an estate plan can impact other aspects of one’s life.  Recently, I met with an individual who was interested in creating an estate plan for her and her partner.  They had been together for 30 years and have a son but hadn’t chosen to marry.  During the estate planning discussions, they realized that marriage and legal adoption of their son by the partner made sense for estate planning.  As a result, they decided to commemorate their relationships with marriage and adoption.