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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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There were three orders on attorney discipline issued this week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The first two cases involved a public reprimand and suspension from the practice of law for a period of time.  The third case involved reinstating an attorney who was formerly suspended.

1. A15-0259, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard William Hechter, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 193537.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard William Hechter committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees and costs from his trust account, commingling earned fees and costs with client funds in his trust account, creating shortages in his trust account, issuing trust account checks in direct payment of his own personal and/or business expenses, and failing to maintain the required trust account books and records, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.15(a), (b), (c)(3), and (h), and Appendix 1 thereto.

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a public reprimand and 2 years of probation, during which respondent's books and records will be available for the Director's review.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

2. A14-1589, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Richard Lee Swanson, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 173423.

The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has filed a petition for disciplinary action alleging that respondent Richard Lee Swanson committed professional misconduct warranting public discipline, namely: with respect to four client matters, failing to adequately communicate with clients, failing to diligently pursue client
cases, failing to appear for hearings, failing to obtain the consent of one client to the involvement of substitute counsel, making a false statement to one client, failing to properly refund the unearned portion of clients' retainers, and failing to provide a copy of one client's file; and committing trust account violations by failing to maintain proper
trust account books and records, failing to promptly withdraw earned fees from a trust account, commingling earned fees with client funds, and failing to deposit advance attorney fees payments and an advance filing fee payment in trust, in violation of Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(3) and (4), 1.5(b), 1.6(a), 1.15, 1.16(d), 4.1, and 8.4(b),
(c), and (d).

The parties jointly recommend that the appropriate discipline is a 90-day suspension and 2 years of supervised probation. In their stipulation, the parties indicate that respondent presented evidence of several mitigating factors to the Director.  Accordingly, that is what the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered.

3. A14-2158, In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Shannon M. Fitzpatrick, a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 345349.

By order filed on February 12, 2015, we suspended respondent Shannon M. Fitzpatrick from the practice of law for a minimum of 30 days, effective from the date of the filing of the order. Respondent has filed an affidavit seeking reinstatement in which she states that she has fully complied with the terms of the suspension order, except for
successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility does not oppose the request.  Accordingly, the Minnesota Supreme Court conditionally reinstated Respondent Fitzpatrick to the practice of law in the State of Minnesota, subject to her successful completion of the professional responsibility portion of the state bar examination, and is placed on
disciplinary probation for 2 years.

Tim represents attorneys facing professional discipline, and consults with attorneys about whether a particular situation or proposed course of conduct implicates the Rules of Professional Conduct.  When faced with a situation that may implicate the Rules of Professional Conduct, Tim always recommends that an attorney seek an advisory opinion from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. 

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  Also, Tim is licensed only in state and federal courts in Minnesota.  As such, any information provided in this blog post pertains only to those jurisdictions.  Further, 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.