Wisconsin Estate Planning Attorneys Help Protect Your Assets
Preserving your family’s wealth for future generations
This is a practice area that seems to intimidate a lot of people. After all, who wants to talk about dying? I see a lot of promotional materials warning that you have to have a will or the court will control who gets your property. That is not really accurate. Wisconsin has a law that attempts to pass your assets when you don’t have a will in a way that they anticipate you would have done if you had a will. The rules are rigid and limit inheritance to spouses and blood relatives. Anything that does not follow the statutory distribution plan must be set out in a properly-written and validly-executed will or it will not happen.
There are a variety of important reasons to have a will. For people with minor or incapacitated children, you have the ability to recommend persons to act as guardians for your children if you should die. For people who have children from prior marriages, allocation of assets among spouses and children is important. If you want to make gifts to charity, that must be set out in a will. If you want to excuse your personal representative from the requirement of purchasing a bond in administering your estate, that must be set out in a will.
For our estate planning clients, in addition to planning for wills, we review the impact of Wisconsin Marital Property Law and make recommendations about entering into a Marital Property Classification Agreement. We also recommend the execution of both financial and health care powers of attorney to help to avoid the costly and unpleasant experience of guardianship by allowing you to personally choose people to act on your behalf without going to court.
Recently, many clients have chosen revocable trusts as part of their estate plans. A trust allows you to avoid the cost and public disclosure that comes with a probate administration. It also provides for designation of successor trustees promptly upon your death-avoiding delays inherent in the probate system. Trusts are more complicated than wills, so an explanation is generally needed, but there are significant benefits.
There are other ways to avoid probate as well, including Transfer on Death Designations for real estate, Payable on Death Accounts and annual exclusion gifts, to name a few. We can discuss those less formal options as well.
Our experience in this area is both legal/practical and personal. We live through life’s experiences in our own families and with our clients. That personal experience allows us to bring compassion and understanding to our role as attorneys. If you are ready to take control of this aspect of your life, give us a call and let’s sit down and talk.