Having a will can help put your family at ease

Local estate planner Cory Wessman says having a will is the ultimate "selfless act". It won't mean much to you because you'll be gone, but it could be the perfect parting gift to your loved ones.

Wessman says a lot of people don't want to think about making a will or believe they don't have the time or resources. But, he says it’s important to lay out who you want your assets to go to, who will carry out your wishes and who will take care of your children, if you have them, so your loved ones don't have to guess.

"Any clarity you can provide as far as who gets what and who's in charge will provide your family with peace of mind and cost effectiveness following your death,” Wessman said.

If you have a fortune, Wessman says setting up a foundation, trust, or giving large monetary gifts to your loved ones while you're alive, will help them avoid paying state and federal taxes. In Minnesota, an estate worth more than $1.6 million is taxed up to 16 percent, while Uncle Sam takes a whopping 40 percent of any estate over $5.45 million.

"Minnesota is one of the worst places to live as far as estate taxes. We're one of only 10 states to have state-level estate tax.” Wessman says.

Most importantly, Wessman stresses a will shouldn't have any surprises. Having a family meeting makes sure your last will and testament allows you to have the final word.

"We say you are not done until you are dead. Everyone needs an estate plan but it’s usually a painless process,” he says.

Drawing up a will costs between $600 and $2,000. Additionally, Wessman say you should have a health directive, to let your family know your wishes in case you cannot make medical decisions for yourself.