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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 a trust. The short answer is that most people do not need a trust, but there are certain situations where a trust is a good idea. In other words, you probably do not need a trust unless there is a good reason for you to have a trust.

A few definitions are in order. There are two kinds of trusts: a living trust, which is created during the lifetime of the settlor (the person who creates the trust) through a separate trust document and a testamentary or after-death trust, which is created through the testator's Will.

After the trust is created, the settlor funds the trust by transferring assets and property from the settlor to the trust.  The person who manages the trust is called the trustee. The trustee is responsible for administering the property in the trust in accordance with the settlor's wishes. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. In other words, the settlor can revoke or cancel the trust during the settlor's lifetime. If the settlor revokes the trust, the property in the trust goes back to the settlor.

That said, a trust is not an appropriate estate planning vehicle for most people. Unless you have excessive wealth, unique property (I am thinking of Prince's music – both released and unreleased), or a special situation, I trust is probably not appropriate for you and will needlessly complicate your estate plan. However, a trust may be appropriate if you have minor children, have minor or adult children with diminished capacity who cannot handle their own financial affairs, have a lot of property that you want to give to charity, need to reduce your taxable estate, or want to fund your estate with life insurance.

There are other reasons to have a trust, and the best way to determine if a trust is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. However, for most people, an estate plan consisting of a will, a health care directive, and a power of attorney is more appropriate than a trust.

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 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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Tim is teaching a free seminar: Everything You Need to Know about Estate Planning.  The seminar will be held on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. at Tim's office, 2140-4th Ave., Anoka, MN 55303.

In this seminar, we will discuss the three pillars of estate planning – the will, the health care directive, and the power of attorney, what is the difference between each document, and the questions that you have to ask before signing each document

Space is limited, so advantage registration is required. To register, please visit:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/everything-you-need-to-know-about-estate-planning-tickets-26528821419.

ATTORNEYS: one standard CLE credit has been applied for.