Working on Your “To-Do List”

As most of us are at home right now, we are looking for ways to fill our time. For many, those items on our “to-do list” are starting to get crossed off. I have had a reminder on my calendar for almost two years now to update my estate planning documents. Kind of like the carpenter whose house is always unfinished. My estate documents were created almost twenty years ago, however with all of the life changes over those last twenty years, an update was long overdue. They are now updated!

Breen and Person, Ltd. is open and here to serve you in Brainerd, Crosslake, Walker and Longville. We are revising and adapting our process just as your other local businesses. To serve you and help keep our staff safe, we have set up our office hours by appointment only and sanitizing in between client visits. Many appointments are happening via phone conference and video calls like Zoom. We have even had some curb-side document signings!

Unfortunately, it is times like this that bring the importance of our estate planning document back to the top of our “to-do list.” We can still meet with you (in a variety of ways) and put together a plan that fits with your family goals and needs.

Your estate planning tool box should include these basic documents: health care directive, power of attorney and a will or trust. There is no one size fits all and it is important to work with an experienced advisor to complete these documents to ensure your wishes are carried out. Resist the urge to go to the on-line programs or prepackaged form sets to complete your estate plan. Whether you realize it or not, when you meet with your attorney, they are not only working to understand your wishes and your family dynamics, but at the same time running through various questions that help them determine the key terms and language to include in your estate plan documents. It is this “behind the scenes” work that often goes unrecognized.

Occasionally I am asked to review a Will that was prepared with an on-line program or from a prepackaged form set. On its face, these types of arrangements may seem like a good idea. They cost less than having an attorney prepare your estate plan documents and how convenient you can sit at home and complete. However, what we often lose sight of is that these programs do not have the “behind the scenes” work that a real live human can provide you. Your attorney has most likely worked through and experienced a variety of situations that help him/her know what additional questions may be needed or how best to revise the language to avoid a situation they saw with a prior file.

Let’s stay connected. As you start your spring projects, clean closets, file drawers and garages, and get flower beds ready for planting, get your estate plan documents reviewed or created. We can help you review or build your estate planning tool box. To my friend who got all her asset information into a three-ring binder, gathered all her passwords and put her newly updated estate plan documents in the binder with all the other information, awesome job! Check it off the “to-do list”.

Please send me an email at with any topic suggestions or requests you may have. Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know. Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.