An estate planning team who cares.
Estate planning is the term generally used to describe the process of determining who will receive your assets upon your death. Estate planning is not just for very wealthy or elderly clients; if you have children, or have any assets, you need to have an estate plan. Our office specializes in assisting clients with smaller estates and non-traditional families. We pride ourselves on providing affordable and quality legal services.
The “life” aspect of Life and Estate Planning encompasses any planning that impacts you while you are still alive. We plan for who would take care of your children if you were to become incapacitated, who can make decisions for you when you cannot, and who has the authority to manage your finances during your incapacity, amongst other potential concerns during your lifetime.
Life and estate planning may encompass a wide variety of issues and has a number of purposes:
- Naming a guardian to make decisions for your minor children if you were to die;
- Ensuring that your assets go to your loved ones as you intend;
- Establishing trusts to ensure that your children do not have control over their inheritance before they reach a determined age;
- Ensuring that someone you trust is able to make decisions for you – both medical and financial – if you are not able to make your own decisions;
- Naming a personal representative (also known as an executor) to be in charge of winding up your affairs; and
- Ensuring that your funeral wishes are known.
Much of the estate planning process can be accomplished through non-probate transfers, such as naming beneficiaries and naming “transfer on death” or “payable on death” beneficiaries. We can assist you with naming the appropriate beneficiaries and drafting some of the documents necessary to accomplish the transfer. We can also provide guidance for any of the steps that you take on your own to accomplish these transfers.
Some of the documents that may be involved in your estate planning include:
This document not only specifies who is entitled to your probate property upon your death but may also establish a minor support trust for your young children. This document also names the guardian for any minor children, names a trustee for the trust, and names your personal representative.
A power of attorney document generally gives someone else the right to make decisions for you when you are alive, but unable to make your own decisions. A Health Care Power of Attorney document allows someone to make certain health care decisions, and may give your agent the right to withhold life support, if he or she believes that this would have been your desire if you were able to express your wishes.
A Financial Power of Attorney document allows someone else to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to make your own decisions. Wisconsin allows for the person you have designated as your Financial Power of Attorney agent to act on your behalf even if you are still able to make your own financial decisions if you so wish.
This document allows you to specify your wishes regarding your funeral services and final disposition, and allows to you name someone to handle these matters for you.
This document is a “set of instructions” to your physicians about your medical wishes in the event you are incapacitated. A Living Will gives you an opportunity to leave directions for your doctors in the event that you have a terminal condition, a permanent loss of consciousness, or advanced dementia.
A common ownership agreement is recommended when you own real estate with anyone other than a spouse. This document can address a variety of issues, such as who is responsible for daily living expenses, mortgage payments, taxes, and repairs, who is entitled to what amounts when the property is sold, who is entitled to live in the home if the relationship ends, and many other issues.
Commonly known as a “pre-nup,” these agreements generally allow for married couples to opt in or opt out of Wisconsin’s marital property law. These agreements can address many issues. They can classify an asset as “individual” property so that the party can retain the property in the event of divorce or upon death, they can address whether or not either party is entitled to maintenance in the event of a divorce, or they could classify all property as marital to assist in estate planning. A pre-nuptial agreement is entered into prior to the marriage. A post-nuptial agreement is entered into after the marriage. The same goals can be accomplished with both documents.