Courtney Law Office, PLLC specializes in the following areas of practice. Click any link for a full description.

WILLS AND TRUSTS

Wills and trusts are legal documents that can provide for how your property is managed during your lifetime (trusts) and give instructions for how your property is distributed after your death (wills and trusts).

Christine B. Courtney has years of experience with both the drafting and administration of wills and trusts after death.  This experience provides a depth of awareness to the importance of different aspects of the creation of these documents. Courtney Law Office, PLLC, works with clients to identify goals, discuss possible outcomes, and decide on the right path when crafting these sophisticated legal documents tailored to each client.

SPECIAL AND SUPPLEMENTAL NEEDS TRUSTS

We all dream of a financial windfall that will wash away all of our woes.  In reality, a significant inheritance or court-awarded damages can create a serious problem for individuals who also receive state or federal benefits. For those with a long-term medical need to have state and federal benefits, such a financial change could put those benefits in jeopardy until the money is “spent down.”

Special and Supplemental Needs Trusts are trusts that allow the beneficiary to access those assets under specific circumstances, while still allowing the beneficiary to remain on state and federal benefit programs. Courtney Law Office, PLLC, works with its clients to execute these complex trusts and provide peace of mind to individuals and families.

PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

The loss of a loved one is an emotional and difficult experience, which can be further exacerbated by a confusing legal system of transferring property to the survivors. Christine B. Courtney is intimately familiar with the probate process as a former clerk in the Probate and Mental Health Court of Hennepin County, and she has years of experience guiding clients through the probate system and managing nonprobate estate administration. Chris Courtney is a partner and ally to her clients as they navigate these legal systems in the wake of a loved one’s passing.

TRUST ADMINISTRATION

For many clients, a trust was created to achieve past goals, trustees were appointed, and the trustees were given little to no guidance on how to perform their role as trustee. The job of trustee is governed by both statute and the terms of the trust itself. Trustees often need assistance in understanding their roles and in performing their tasks, including managing and deeding real estate and distributing property.

Courtney Law Office, PLLC, works as a partner with trustees and other fiduciaries to administer and distribute trusts, by providing a space to ask questions and find answers.

SUPPORTED DECISION-MAKING

Supported decision-making (SDM) centers around the concept that all individuals need help with some aspects of their lives—most adults, for example, get assistance with paying taxes, fixing their cars, or managing a repair to a furnace or water heater. Supporting decision-making is an approach to allowing individuals with disabilities to retain their decision-making capabilities as far as possible by choosing appropriate supports that will help them make choices. Every individual’s SDM is tailored to that person and will therefore look different for every person. Courtney Law Office, PLLC, can help an individual draft and execute a SDM agreement which identifies the methods used and creates a path to identifying individuals nominated to provide support.

Chris Courtney focuses on creating the right plan for each client—a plan that works with all the moving parts of the client’s support system, plans for the future, complex family relationships, and financial system.  Chris takes time with every client to discuss the situation, ask and answer questions, and find the option that works best.

HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES

A health care directive is a document that gives another person the ability to make health care and medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated in the judgment of your attending physician. Without a health care directive, there is no legal presumption that a spouse or other family member can make health care decisions on your behalf. This powerful document is essential because it provides your chosen person legal authority to make important medical decisions if you no longer can.  As a preventative incapacity planning tool, this document can prevent the expense and hassle of a guardianship proceeding.

Chris Courtney is committed to guiding clients through the process of selecting a health care agent. She aims to provide peace of mind as she assists with these documents and follow-up instructions that comply with the laws surrounding complex medical decisions.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY

A power of attorney is a document that gives another person (the “attorney in fact”) the ability to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. This is a potent document which can be used to protect someone from extreme financial exploitation and from unnecessary and expensive court interventions. However, in the wrong hands, it can be used as a tool of exploitation.

Chris Courtney has extensive experience working with victims of financial exploitation, and has seen powers of attorney used to cause harm and as a tool to protect victims.  She draws on that experience to counsel her clients through the process of selecting an attorney in fact and managing this powerful tool.

FIDUCIARY SELECTION, APPOINTMENTS AND REVOCATION

Life isn’t static—our relationships are always changing and adapting, and our legal documents should reflect those changes.

Chris Courtney has years of experience helping individuals reflect on changing circumstances and altering their legal documents to better meet their needs. Many clients return to update their documents to reflect the capabilities of a client’s aging parents and siblings, and the reality of children reaching an age when they may serve as fiduciaries. At other times, Chris has worked with families undergoing the trauma of an individual financially exploiting another relative, and she has updated documents and provided counseling through that process. Courtney Law Office serves its clients who need fiduciary restructuring throughout this process with discretion and understanding.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PLANNING

The Minnesota State Demographic Center has stated that our populations is aging—in fact, by 2030, more than one in five Minnesotans will be aged 65 or older. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the cost of home care is an average of $60,000 per year, the cost of an assisted living facility (which does not include services and additional fees) is $48,000 per year, and the cost of a skilled nursing facility is over $90,000. These numbers are significant, and can mean an enormous financial loss to a family trying to navigate the maze of elder care planning.

Courtney Law Office, PLLC, is a partner to families making plans for the future as they juggle the goals of providing for an individual who needs assistance, ensuring that the surviving spouse/partner is not impoverished, and providing for the needs of loved ones.

GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP

Guardianship and conservatorship are complex processes by which the local county court appoints one person to make legal, financial, medical, and health decisions on behalf of another person (the “ward” or “protected person”). This legal action can be legally and emotionally complicated for everyone involved.

Courtney Law Office, PLLC, works with individuals and families to manage this transition with the compassion and dignity that all parties deserve.

PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

For many couples, combining finances in a marriage is a complex and sometimes fraught experience. This can be complicated by inheritances, children, shared family property, and other factors.  As a practitioner experienced with complex family systems, and as a human with personal experience with complicated families, Chris Courtney approaches these situations with sensitivity and empathy.

Chris Courtney is experienced in creating and reviewing pre- and post-nuptial agreements. She knows how to work on these complex agreements with an eye to incorporating them into existing and new incapacity and estate plans.

Legal expertise to guide you through the difficult times.