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Navigating Funeral Trusts in Minnesota: A Comprehensive Guide to Securing Your Final Wishes

Navigating Funeral Trusts in Minnesota A Comprehensive Guide to Securing Your Final Wishes
Planning for the future includes not just the joyous occasions but also the inevitable realities we all must face. One of the most sensitive yet essential aspects of planning is securing your final wishes through instruments like a Funeral Trust. For those in Minnesota, understanding the nuances of a Funeral Trust can provide a much-needed peace of mind. If you're interested in creating a solid plan, reach out to Heritage Law Office either by using our online form or by directly calling us at 414-253-8500.

What is a Funeral Trust?

Definition and Purpose

A Funeral Trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to set aside funds for your funeral and burial or cremation expenses. Unlike general estate planning tools like wills or trusts, a Funeral Trust is specifically tailored to cover the costs associated with your final rites.

Importance in Minnesota

Minnesota state laws provide specific provisions for Funeral Trusts that can help you ensure that your last wishes are honored without burdening your loved ones. These laws stipulate how the funds in a Funeral Trust can be used and what obligations the trustee has in administering these assets.

Types of Funeral Trusts in Minnesota

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Funeral Trusts

Two main types of Funeral Trusts are recognized in Minnesota: revocable and irrevocable.

  1. Revocable Funeral Trusts: Allow you to retain control over the funds and make adjustments as necessary. They are subject to estate taxes.

  2. Irrevocable Funeral Trusts: Once established, you cannot alter or dissolve these trusts. They offer advantages like Medicaid eligibility and estate tax exemption.

Specialized Funeral Trusts

Minnesota also allows for the creation of specialized types of trusts like:

  1. Charitable Funeral Trusts: You can set up a Funeral Trust that donates any remaining funds to charitable organizations.

  2. Family Funeral Trusts: These trusts allocate a portion of the funds to family members for travel and other ancillary expenses related to attending your funeral.

Types of Funeral Trusts in Minnesota

Type of Trust Key Features Flexibility Impact on Medicaid Eligibility
Revocable Funeral Trust Can be altered or revoked at any time High Considered an asset
Irrevocable Funeral Trust Cannot be altered or revoked once established Low Not considered an asset
Preneed Funeral Contract Paid directly to a funeral service provider Low Not considered an asset
Totten Trust Payable-on-death account with a bank Moderate Depends on the amount

Key Takeaways:

  • Revocable Funeral Trusts offer the most flexibility but could impact your Medicaid eligibility.
  • Irrevocable Funeral Trusts and Preneed Funeral Contracts are not considered assets for Medicaid eligibility.
  • Totten Trusts provide a moderate level of flexibility and their impact on Medicaid eligibility will vary depending on the amount in the trust.

Legal Requirements and Procedures


Setting up a Funeral Trust requires a series of legal documents. It's not just a simple form but involves contracts that outline trustee duties and liabilities.

Involved Parties

Typically, setting up a Funeral Trust involves three parties:

  1. Settlor: The person setting up the trust.
  2. Trustee: The person responsible for administering the trust.
  3. Beneficiary: The entity or individual benefiting from the trust, often a funeral service provider.

Fiduciary Responsibilities

The trustee must adhere to stringent fiduciary responsibilities to ensure that the funds are used according to the settlor's wishes and Minnesota's legal requirements.

Financial and Tax Implications

Funeral Costs in Minnesota

Understanding the average funeral costs in Minnesota can help you determine how much money to allocate. Prices vary but generally range between $7,000 to $15,000.

Tax Benefits and Liabilities

An irrevocable Funeral Trust can offer tax benefits, but it's crucial to consult an experienced attorney to navigate the complex estate tax implications.

Securing Funeral Services and Products

Pre-Planning Your Funeral

Pre-planning your funeral can make the process smoother and can be a part of your Funeral Trust arrangement. Whether you prefer a burial or cremation, laying out your preferences in detail will alleviate the stress on your family during a trying time.

Selection of Funeral Services

When setting up your trust, you can specify the services you wish to have. Whether it's a traditional burial, a cremation, or a green burial, specifying these services upfront can be valuable. You can even designate funds for specific products such as the type of casket or urn you want.

Involvement of Funeral Homes

Often, Funeral Trusts in Minnesota collaborate directly with funeral homes. These establishments often offer packages that can be paid for in advance through the trust. Doing so can lock in current prices and save money in the long run.

Protecting Your Trust from Financial Abuse

Choosing a Reliable Trustee

The choice of a trustee is critical to the successful implementation of a Funeral Trust. The trustee must be trustworthy and capable of fulfilling their roles, which include trustee duties and liabilities.

Legal Safeguards

Minnesota laws provide several legal safeguards against the misuse of Funeral Trust funds. These include regular auditing and the requirement that the trust funds be kept separate from any other funds to prevent co-mingling.

The Role of State Oversight

In Minnesota, the Department of Commerce has oversight responsibilities to ensure that Funeral Trusts are managed effectively and ethically.

Legal and Financial Safeguards for Funeral Trusts in Minnesota

Safeguard Type Description Required by Law?
Auditing Regular review of the financial status of the trust Yes
Separate Account Trust funds must be kept separate from other funds Yes
Oversight by Department State Department of Commerce monitors trust administration Yes
Spousal Protection Provides protections for the surviving spouse No
Beneficiary Designation Allows for the designation of a secondary beneficiary for unused funds No

Key Takeaways:

  • Auditing, separate accounts, and state oversight are legally mandated safeguards for Funeral Trusts in Minnesota.
  • Spousal Protection and Beneficiary Designation are optional but recommended features that can provide additional security for your trust.

Proactive Measures for Asset Protection

Impact on Medicaid Eligibility

Irrevocable Funeral Trusts can be particularly beneficial when planning for Medicaid. They are not counted as assets in the Medicaid asset protection process, thus helping you maintain your eligibility.

Aligning with Other Estate Planning Tools

Your Funeral Trust should be a component of a broader estate planning strategy. Whether it's setting up powers of attorney, healthcare directives, or other types of trusts like revocable and irrevocable trusts, your Funeral Trust should align seamlessly with these tools to create a comprehensive life and death plan.

How to Get Started with a Funeral Trust in Minnesota

Consult with Experienced Attorneys

A Funeral Trust is not something you should set up without professional guidance. Our team at Heritage Law Office can provide you with the experienced advice you need.

Complete Necessary Paperwork

After a consultation, the next step is to complete the necessary legal documentation, often involving multiple forms and contractual agreements.

Fund Your Trust

Once the paperwork is complete, you'll need to fund your Funeral Trust. The funds can come from various sources, including savings, investments, or even life insurance policies.

Secure Your Final Wishes with a Funeral Trust Attorney in Minnesota

When it comes to securing your final wishes and relieving your family from the burden of funeral planning, a Funeral Trust is an essential tool, especially in Minnesota where specific regulations apply. Whether you're local or planning remotely, phone and online appointments are available to make the process convenient for you. To learn more or start setting up your Funeral Trust, contact us at 414-253-8500 or send us a message for a free consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Funeral Trusts in Minnesota

1. What Are the Main Advantages of Setting Up a Funeral Trust in Minnesota?

A Funeral Trust offers several advantages, such as providing a secure way to set aside funds for your final rites and reducing the financial and emotional burden on your loved ones. In Minnesota, setting up an irrevocable Funeral Trust can also offer benefits like exemption from estate taxes and not affecting your Medicaid eligibility.

2. How Does a Funeral Trust Differ from a Last Will and Testament?

While a Last Will outlines how your assets should be distributed after your death, a Funeral Trust is specifically dedicated to covering your funeral expenses. It offers a quicker way to access funds, as it avoids the probate process that wills usually have to go through.

3. Can I Change the Terms of a Funeral Trust Once It's Set Up?

That depends on the type of Funeral Trust you set up. If it's a revocable trust, you have the flexibility to make changes at any time. However, irrevocable trusts are fixed and cannot be altered or canceled once established.

4. What Happens to Unused Funds in a Funeral Trust?

Minnesota law stipulates that any unused funds in a Funeral Trust must be returned to the estate or as dictated in the terms of the trust. You can also opt for the residual amount to go to a designated beneficiary.

5. Are There Any Age or Health Restrictions for Setting Up a Funeral Trust?

No, there are no age or health restrictions for setting up a Funeral Trust in Minnesota. It is advisable for individuals of any age to plan for their funeral expenses to lessen the burden on their loved ones and ensure their final wishes are honored.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.