Name: Diana (Marianetti) Ringuette
Employer: Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP
Education: Hamline University School of Law (J.D., cum laude), Macalester College (B.A.)
How long have you been practicing?
I’ve been practicing law since 2010.
What led you to practice in the area of estate planning?
That’s actually a funny story. When I was a first year in law school, jobs were few and far between. One evening, I saw a posting for a local law firm that had an opening for an “estate planning law clerk.” I thought….wow that sounds….horrible. But, it was a job, and I needed to support myself. Well, I got the job, and much to my surprise, I immediately fell in love with the practice. I loved the interaction with clients, I loved helping them plan for the future, and I loved finding unique ways to work around (and with) family issues.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning?
The biggest misconception I hear is that estate planning is “only for the wealthy.“ That couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, anyone who wants to have a say in where their property will go and who will care for their kids should have an estate plan in place.
What is your favorite aspect of helping individuals create their estate plan?
My absolute favorite moment is the sigh of relief from my clients once we’ve signed their documents. Being able to provide people with that peace of mind is extremely gratifying.
When do you recommend that an individual start thinking about his or her estate plan?
Ideally, you should do some planning as soon as you’ve established a household, either on your own, or with a partner/spouse. At the very latest, you should begin planning as soon as you have children.
What is a best piece of advice that you share with clients as they think about their estate plan?
What we do is not set in stone. Your plan should grow and evolve with you and your family. People move in and out of your life, your family’s needs change, and your wealth will (hopefully) grow. I recommend that individuals revisit their plan every 3-5 years, or anytime there is a life change (e.g. marriage, new baby, divorce or death in the family).
Any interesting anecdotes?
Whether an estate is worth $20 million or $100,000, family members will always fight over the “stuff.” Whether it’s a necklace, a guitar, or that unique set of china, items of tangible personal property always seem to create controversy. To avoid hard feelings, if there are specific items that you want to go to specific people (or if there are certain items that you think your family members are likely to fight over), create a list to be kept with your Will (your Will must refer to the list) that designates which items go to which beneficiaries. The list doesn’t have to be witnessed (or notarized) like your Will does; it just has to be signed and dated. The list can be printed, written on a piece of notebook paper, or could even be scribbled on a napkin as long as it is signed by you and dated.