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I am often asked what a landlord should do is a tenant dies.  If a tenant dies and was not married, I generally recommend that a landlord bring an eviction action against that tenant by name, and against the estate of that tenant, if only to get the rental unit back. That way, the landlord will have the legal right to rent the unit again and dispose of any personal property remaining there.

In the event of the death of a tenant, the landlord has three primary concerns: what happens to the lease, dealing with the tenant's personal property, and dealing with the security deposit. I will now address each of these concerns in turn.

Lease

What happens to the lease upon the death of a tenant is governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .265. Basically, the lease continues in force, until the landlord or the tenant (or the tenant's estate) provide notice that the lease has terminated.

The statute provides that either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease by providing written notice at least 60 days in advance. In other words, the notice must be given at least two full rental periods in advance. For example, notice given sometime in the month of September actually terminates the lease as of the end of November, and the tenant's estate is on the hook for rent from the date of the notice through the end of the lease.

However, the tenant's estate remains liable for unpaid rent and other amounts due and owing under the lease through the date of the lease termination. The landlord still has to deal with the deceased tenant's personal property as well as the security deposit, but can sue the tenant's estate in conciliation court for the amounts due and owing under the lease, including unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, and damages to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Personal Property Belonging to the Deceased Tenant

The landlord has the duty under Minn. Stat. 504B.271 to secure the tenant's property. This can be most easily accomplished by either changing the locks, if the property is going to be stored in the unit, or moving the property to a no other secured location on site, such as a lockable garage.  Once it becomes apparent to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord has to secure it, as described above. The landlord has to store the property for 28 days if the property is to be stored on site.

After the property is secured, the landlord has to conduct an inventory of the property. The easiest way to do the inventory is to take digital photographs or a video of the property, accompanied by a list describing the specific items. Big-ticket items, such as a television, should be listed separately, but general categories are okay for other items, such as furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.

The landlord has to mail a copy of the inventory to the tenant (or the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last known address), which is probably the apartment. I recommend posting a sign on the door indicating that property appears to be abandoned to the landlord, the landlord has secured the tenant's personal property and that the landlord may be contacted to set up an appointment to provide access.

The landlord should only provide access to the personal property of a deceased tenant to someone who is named as a personal representative in the tenant's will.   If the tenant died intestate – that is, without a will – I would be very cautious about providing access to the property to a person who is not named or has been appointed as a personal representative. After all – the landlord does not want to be liable to the tenant's estate for improperly disposing of the tenant's personal property.

For more information on dealing with a tenant's personal property, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/what-should-a-landlord-do-with-personal-property-that-a-tenant-leaves-behind-when-the-tenant-moves-out.html

Security Deposit

Security deposits in Minnesota are governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .178. The landlord has to return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days after termination of the tenancy, with interest, less the amount of damages to the landlord beyond ordinary wear and tear.  When a tenant dies, the security deposit becomes the property of the tenant's estate. The landlord should return any deposit remaining, with appropriate interest, to either the named or appointed personal representative or to the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last-known address, which is probably the rental unit.

For more information on dealing with the security deposit, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/how-should-a-landlord-handle-a-tenants-security-deposit-after-the-tenant-moves-out.html

The death of a tenant presents a complicated situation to the landlord, and every landlord-tenant situation is unique. For that reason, I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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I am often asked whether a person needs to have a Will or estate plan. The answer is yes, probably. If you are single, have never been married, are not in a relationship, do not have children (either biological or adopted), do not have life insurance or another form of insurance that pays a cash benefit upon your death, rent as opposed to own your home, do not own any significant personal property (such as a motor vehicle), and are okay with the state determining what happens to your property after you die, then you might be okay not having an estate plan. In other words, and estate plan is right for most persons, and most people need an estate plan.

I think that everybody should have an estate plan consisting of a Will, a health care directive, and a power of attorney. The Will controls what happens to your property after your death; the health care directive appoints someone who you know and trust to be your healthcare agent in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions related to your medical care and treatment by yourself; and the power of attorney appoint someone you know and trust to make decisions and carry on your financial affairs in the event that you are unable to do so on your own.

There are two primary reasons why you should have an estate plan. First, you want the control that comes from having a written plan detailing how you want your property distributed at the time of your death. I believe that you will feel an immense feeling of satisfaction and relief once you have a written plan in place that says what you want to have happen to your personal property when you die. I also think that you will feel a profound sense of relief when you have a health care directive and power of attorney that gives somebody you trust the authority to make medical and financial decisions, respectively, on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

The purpose of having an estate plan is not necessarily to benefit you, but to make life easier for those who survive you. Instead of having your loved ones sit around the hospital or funeral home wondering how you would like this situation – probably, your last illness or death – handled, what you would have done, and what you would like to have done, you can spell out exactly what you want to have happen in your estate plan and provide guidance and instruction for your survivors. Providing that guidance and instruction to your survivors is the real purpose and value of having an estate plan.

I've written about this before, but I think that the death of the pop icon Prince illustrates why you should have an estate plan. Prince died intestate, without a Will. If Prince had had a Will, there would not now be so much legal wrangling, maneuvering, and fighting over his estate. I don't think that Prince would have wanted that, and doubt that you wanted as well. All of that trouble could have easily been avoided if Prince had had a Will. To see the prior article, please visit:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/06/the-probate-mess-stemming-from-princes-death-is-why-you-need-an-estate-plan.html

The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss your specific situation. Everybody who calls gets a free 5 minute mini telephone consultation. An in person meeting is $250, and that amount is credited to your account when you retained me to represent you in drafting your Will, healthcare advance directive, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in the state and federal courts of Minnesota, and the advice that he gives is applicable to that jurisdiction only. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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By now, you have probably heard that the music icon Prince has died intestate, or without a will. You have probably also heard about the probate mess unfolding in Carver County, where Prince died. The mess involves multiple attorneys and multiple persons claiming to be heirs under the law, is going to end up being terribly expensive for Prince and everybody else involved, and illustrates why you need an estate plan.

For most people, an estate plan involves three documents:

(1.) a Will, which controls the disposition of your property after your death.

(2.) A Health Care Directive, which names someone – usually a close relative, such as a spouse, or a friend – as your health care agent, a person who is authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make the decisions your self. For example, if you are in a coma and otherwise unconscious, the doctors can talk to your health care agent to make medical decisions related to your care.

(3.) A Power of Attorney, which lets the person who you appoint as power of attorney to make financial decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. For example, if you are in a coma and otherwise unconscious, your power of attorney can make financial decisions (related to bank accounts, real estate, investments, etc.) for you.

There are two primary reasons why you should have an estate plan. First, you want the control that comes from having a written plan detailing how you want your property distributed at the time of your death. I believe that you will feel an immense feeling of satisfaction and relief once you have a written plan in place that says what you want to have happen to your personal property when you die. I also think that you will feel a profound sense of relief when you have a health care directive and power of attorney that gives somebody you trust the authority to make medical and financial decisions, respectively, on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

In Prince's case, I suspect that he would have needed a trust to manage and control his music. The details of a trust and setting one up are beyond the scope of this article, but you basically appoint somebody to manage your property in the event that you cannot. A trust can be a powerful estate planning tool, but it is probably not appropriate for most people.

The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss your specific situation. Everybody who calls gets a free 5 minute mini telephone consultation. An in person meeting is $250, and that amount is credited to your account when you retained me to represent you in drafting your Will, healthcare advance directive, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in the state and federal courts of Minnesota, and the advice that he gives is applicable to that jurisdiction only. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.





 
 
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I am often asked to explain the difference between a Will and an estate plan. The short answer is that a Will determines what happens to your property after you die, and can be an important part of an estate plan. An estate plan, by contrast, includes a Will, and also a healthcare advance directive and a power of attorney, and may include a trust as well. The healthcare advance directive and power of attorney both give somebody else the authority to make health care or financial decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated.

I generally recommend that all persons have a Will, a healthcare advance directive (sometimes called a "living will"), and a power of attorney. A trust is sometimes appropriate as well, and a trust can be an important part of estate planning. If you own a small business, you may need to consider business succession planning issues as well, to pass the business onto the next generation.

A Will is a very powerful document that allows you to name a personal representative, a guardian for your children, and indicate what you would like to have happen with your property after you die. In addition to planning for what happens to your property after your death, I think that it is also important to appoint someone through a power of attorney and healthcare advance directive to make health care – related decisions for you and manage your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated.

The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss your specific situation. Everybody who calls gets a free 5 minute mini telephone consultation. An in person meeting is $250, and that amount is credited to your account when you retained me to represent you in drafting your Will, healthcare advance directive, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in the state and federal courts of Minnesota, and the advice that he gives is applicable to that jurisdiction only. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.


 
 
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I am frequently asked whether a person should have a Will. The short answer is that yes, most people need a Will, especially if the testator (the person making the will) has significant assets and property, and wants to control how his or her property is disputed after death.

If you die intestate, and do not have a Will, the property that you own at the time of your death will pass on to your heirs according to the laws of the state of Minnesota. You may not be happy with the results.

There are many reasons for you to have a Will, but the main reason – at least for me – is control. You get to control who is going to be your personal representative, trustee (if a trust is necessary), guardian for your children, etc. After all, what happens to your property after you die should be your choice – not the choice of the legislature (in its infinite wisdom). Rather, your property should be distributed according to your wishes, and what you want to happen should happen.

With a Will, you can clearly tell your family what you want to happen to your personal property, and minimize confusion in doubt about what should happen. Saying what you want to happen in advance of your death will make it a lot easier for those who come after you, and go a long way towards keeping peace in your family. If you tell your children who should get grandma's chifferobe, your children will not spend time, energy, and money fighting about it.

A Will may also be appropriate if you have unique assets, such as antiques, collections, heirlooms, or a family business, or a unique personal situation, such as a minor child or incapacitated or beneficiaries who have not yet reached the age of majority. With a Will, you can include persons who would not otherwise be heirs, such as stepchildren, friends, and charities, and exclude persons who are hairs under the law and entitled to receive a portion of your estate.

Your needs and whether a Will is right for you depends on your specific situation. You should seek the advice of an attorney before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss  your unique situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.