In an effort to show our appreciation for the daily sacrifices of fire fighters, police officers and other first responders, this free program is brought to you by the Minnesota State Bar Association. The Wills for Heroes program offers free Wills, Health Care Directives and Financial Powers of Attorney to Minnesota’s first responders and their spouses.
The complimentary Wills offered, however, are not for everyone. To enable us to offer these estate planning documents to all Minnesota police officers, fire fighters and other first responders efficiently and at no cost, the Wills do not cover many issues for persons with large or complicated estates, beneficiaries with special needs, and beneficiaries that cannot handle finances. The program also is not appropriate for persons who want to set up or require more than a basic trust for minor children. As defined in the Wills for Heroes program, a large estate exceeds $500,000.
Your estate (for Wills for Heroes purposes) consists of your cash, personal property, stocks and bonds, real estate (equity only), savings, life insurance, and retirement assets (such as a 401(K) or an IRA). If you have a large or complicated estate or desire complex Trust arrangements, this program is not available to you. You should instead contact a lawyer who focuses in the area of Wills and Trusts. In such a case, we will be happy to give you a referral to an estate planning attorney in your county.
Wills for Heroes will only give you limited recommendations for beneficiary designations on assets. If you designate a beneficiary(ies) in your life insurance policy, that person will receive the benefit without it passing through your Will. If, however, you have life insurance policies where you have not designated a beneficiary or where you name your estate as the beneficiary, the proceeds of that policy will pass through your Will when you die. The same principle applies to IRAs, retirement plans, annuities, and 401(k) plans. You should check with your provider every one to two years to make sure the beneficiary designations are correct and current.
Wills for Heroes does not handle the following areas/issues: 1) estate, gift, income and/or Generation Skipping Transfer tax issues; 2) special needs trusts; 3) charitable trusts; 4) citizenship/domicile of first responder and/or spouse; 5) assets managed by a fiduciary outside of the U.S.; 6) assets held outside of the U.S; 7) short term and/or long term care planning; 8) immigration issues; and 9) any litigation matter. The program also does not handle complicated or intricate planned distributions outside of the questionnaire options.
The lawyers and law firms involved in the Wills for Heroes program will perform a conflict search on your name or your spouse’s name. If, however, you are aware of any legal proceeding involving you, please alert the attorney at the beginning of the interview so that the attorney will arrange for another attorney to meet with you.
The Estate Planning questionnaire will answer some common questions and prepare you to discuss your needs with an attorney. It will also provide a convenient form to record your important information. All discussions with an attorney will be kept confidential. You will keep your questionnaire at the end of the appointment. The Wills for Heroes program will not keep copies of any of the estate planning documents that are prepared through this program; it will be up to you to keep your original documents in a safe and fireproof place. This questionnaire will also help you organize information that the attorney needs to advise you and prepare your estate plan. Some individuals need complex plans that may require assistance beyond what is available in this program. The attorney assigned to work with you will advise you if it is necessary in your case.You and your spouse will share the same appointment, but will have different attorneys to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Each spouse must fill out and bring with him/her a separate estate planning questionnaire, even though the questionnaires may be similar to the other. Please bring your completed questionnaire with you along with a government-issued form of identification.