Estate Planning

 

WILLS, TRUSTS AND PLANNING FOR INCAPACITY 

We assist people in making sure that their assets go to the people or charities they choose, they and their minor children have guardians if needed, and to avoid going through unnecessary court proceedings when they die or cannot make decisions about health care and property. These matters can be dealt with using a will, will with a trust for certain recipients who may be young or have a disability, or “living” trust that works as an alternative to going through court probate. 

The decisions about health care and property can be made by people you choose and trust, so they won’t have to go through a guardianship process in court. 

Some “estate plans” are simple when there are relatives receiving assets and making decisions; however if someone is married, Wisconsin’s Marital Property law may complicate things if a person wants to leave property to someone other than their spouse (i.e. children of a previous relationship). A Marital Property Agreement can allow both spouses to choose who gets their assets. 

If there is no will or trust, Wisconsin law has a “plan” for someone who dies here, and the spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. will get the property, although a court proceeding will be needed and it might not go to the people you would select. 

Without a Health Care Power of Attorney, your family or friend may not be able to make health care decisions if you are unable, and there will have to be a guardian appointed who might not know or do what you would want done, and may not have access to your medical information. The Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows another person to handle your financial affairs, without which a guardian of the person might have to be appointed to do the banking, deal with insurance companies, taxes and property transactions. 

Since the limit on an individual’s total estate (includes everything) has been increased to over $11 million in 2018, and Wisconsin has no estate tax for those estates under $11 million as well, estate taxes are less of a concern than they were previously. 

Call our office for more information. Attorney Patricia Hammel has been helping people with these matters for over 30 years.