The attorneys at Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC know the timelines of the probate process. They are able to work on matters so that as soon as one timeline is met, they start working on the next timeline. That allows them to get a probate done in the minimum amount of time because of their familiarity with the process. Additionally, in order to probatemake the probate process go as smoothly and quickly as possible, the attorneys at Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC always encourage the Personal Representative to be open and honest and with all beneficiaries so there is not anyone who is out there suspicious and worried. By just simply opening up the books and being very communicative, delays can sometimes be avoided that could be caused by people contacting the court and asking for information or creating a will contest because of a distrust. Additionally, the lawyers at Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC act as a buffer sometimes between factions of the family that don’t get along. If people who don’t really trust the Personal Representative can contact their firm instead sometimes that can make things go faster than if they are trying to get in touch with the Personal Representative who may be personally not a friend. Experienced attorneys can also help resolve disputes when they arise. Being able to calmly deal with family members as a person without a bias or history is often useful. Therefore, there are a lot of ways that an experienced attorney can speed up the probate process and make it less painful for those involved.

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monopoly-capital-gains-tax-300x225Let’s face it, most families simply won’t have to worry a lick about the federal estate tax. That’s because about 99% of unmarried people don’t have an estate that exceeds $5.49 million. And more than 99% of married couples don’t have a combined estate of $10.98 million. So, for most families, have no worries about trying to avoid the 40% federal estate tax but fail to spot this unintended tax issue of the Capital Gains Tax.

But almost every family who engages in estate planning has assets that have appreciated in value. That means there is the potential for capital gains tax at the federal level when those appreciated assets are sold.

Example: Let’s say Dad bought stock in ABC Co. for $5 per share over the years. Now, that Dad is 76 years old, ABC Co. stock sells for $60 per share. That means that there is $55 of gain in each share of stock that Dad owns. If Dad sells the stock during his lifetime, he’ll get hit hard with a capital gains tax.

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We’ve talked to many Wisconsin families about things that they had done in an effort to protect their money from all being sucked up by the nursing home costs which can exceed $100,000 annually. Lots of mistakes are being made by people who don’t truly understand the intricacies of the Wisconsin Long Term Care Medicaid law and regulations. While you won’t get all the answers in this post, you’ll learn what some of the common mistakes are. So… here are options that just don’t work. Continue reading

Retirement plans, including IRAs, 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457As, are not controlled by common estate planning documents such as wills and revocable living trusts. They transfer to heirs by a beneficiary designation. So whoever is named as the beneficiary when you initially signed that plans document, is the person that will receive the value in the account when you pass away.
This lack of control sometimes can be problematic, especially when an individual retirement saver has designated a beneficiary and has forgotten to keep those designations up to date. The plan documents will control where the money goes and your last will and testament will have no effect because beneficiary designations avoid probate. Your retirement plans will also not be controlled by a revocable living trust because the plans are not trust property; they are individual property.

Is The Title of A Retirement Plan Going To Be Transferred To A Trust Upon Someone’s Death?retirement

No, what happens is that beneficiary is contacted by the custodian. For example, you have an IRA in a brokerage account. You pass away, and hopefully, you have designated beneficiary’s, for example, your spouse as the primary beneficiary. The broker or your financial advisor calls up your spouse and says, “You are the designated beneficiary of this retirement account there is $100,000 in it and you have a few options for distribution. What would you like to do? Would you like to pay the income tax obligation now, cash it out and do whatever you wish with the money, or do you wish to inherit this IRA and stretch out the tax obligation over your lifetime keep it as your own retirement fund?” Now there are different rules as to whether spouses inherit or if children inherit, but that’s effectively what happens when a custodian handles the transfer to the designated beneficiary.

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A lot of people do not understand the landscape of how retirement plans pass to beneficiaries. They do not necessarily understand the particularities and technicalities of how one inherits and their choices presented by fund custodians. IRAs have only been around since the mid-1970’s and we are only beginning to see multiple generations inheriting them. The lifetime distribution option (stretch IRA) is an even more recent addition to the mix so the idea of not just simply cashing it out is relatively new. Whenever you have these options and choices, people just aren’t savvy enough. Continue reading

Probate obstacles can start with being able to locate and notify all “persons interested.” Everyone must be notified before the probate can begin. An investigation and special hearing would have to take place in order to have a probate move forward if not everyone has been made aware.

“Persons interested” are the people named in a will as beneficiaries, and the Personal Representative. But, the persons interested also include all people who would inherit if there were no will (according to the law of intestate succession). This means that even if a will was left that said “Everything goes to my sister Laura,” interested persons would include all of the people who would inherit if there were no will. This could be parents and all other siblings including any unknown half-siblings from a father who disappeared when the decedent was a small child. It could also include nieces, nephews and cousins.

probateAs you can see, when families are not close, or when a person is very old and the last surviving sibling, it is often difficult to trace a family tree and locate a missing interested person.

Another obstacle people may face in probate is the fact that the courts are located in the county seats. This can mean travel for some people who find travel difficult. Sometimes people are intimidated by going to the court in order to file documents or to figure out which documents need to be filed, etc.

A third barrier in the probate process is knowledge barrier. People need to know about the taxing of estates, court procedures, court processes and the probate process in order to make this happen smoothly. As many people go through probate only once in their lifetime for a loved one, they don’t have time to spend learning all of these particular pieces of knowledge that they need to know.

Lastly, is the fact that people who are dealing with these matters are probably not their best after they have lost a loved one. Sometimes they don’t have the patience or the time to deal with the intricacies involved in the probate process.

What Actually Happens During The Probate Process? Continue reading

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The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Aging Parents

How to Ensure Your Parents Don’t Lose Their Home, Bank Accounts, & Assets To Long Term Care Costs

A friend relayed a story that is one I hear all too often when it comes for caring for aging parents.

According to multiple money experts, America is facing a retirement crisis. Many do not have enough savings and Social Security benefits will not be able to cover the cost of living of most Americans in retirement. Unfortunately, many people prefer not to talk about death so they refuse to think about estate planning for the welfare of those they leave behind.

Yet, death is inevitable and whatever you own should be protected to ensure that the people you love are taken care of according to your wishes. According to Greg Stevens of Cabot Wealth, “everyone needs a will.” He adds that the will should be updated regularly. This is one way to transfer wealth and assets, health care, and other proxies smoothly to the next generation. Continue reading

Many people don’t like to talk about death but they will if it has anything to do with protecting their assets – including digital assets. Digital assets are your online accounts, digital currencies, online accounts, passwords, digital files, user names, and any Terms of Service Agreements (TOSA) that you signed. With the growth of digital technology and Estate Planning in the Digital Ageuse, these assets are expected to be worth over US$5 billion by year 2020. You will need and should have a will drawn up to protect these assets either after death or in case of incapacity to ensure that your loved ones gain legal access to these assets.

The First Step: Assigning Assets

Before anything else, you will have to list down all your digital and traditional assets since your will or estate documents will incorporate all assets. You will need a fiduciary, an executor for your traditional assets, a personal agent with power of attorney in case of incapacity to make decisions, and a trustee. These are the individuals chosen by you to manage all your assets according to your wishes so it is important to select them wisely.

The main issue facing digital assets is the fact that they are not tangible assets and exist primarily on the Internet. The individual tasked to manage your digital assets will have to deal with extenuating circumstances far different because these digital assets may or may not have monetary value. In fact, they are valuable to you because they represent something sentimental to you like a memory or a milestone.

The Second Step: Understanding the Laws on Digital Assets
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Probate is a court case that one files against themselves on behalf of their creditors.

Here’s some history of probate: The way property passes upon ones death has gone through various stages over time. In the middle ages, there were certain rules set by the king that would say where the property was to go and that was not able to be changed with a will or a testament. People just had to deal with the fact that their property was going to probatego to certain people when they died. With the introduction of the will, one could choose where the property went, but there was a need to have supervision by the King’s court so that the sovereign could always keep track of where assets ended up. The probate process has developed from those ages to a process that still needs court involvement.

In probate, when someone dies, there is a court case opened and notices are sent to all people that could receive assets of the deceased person. This notice is an option and an invitation to contest any will that might be presented to the court. There is also a notice that is published in the newspaper for anyone that thinks that the deceased person owes them money to come forward and make a claim against the estate. As the claims come in and everyone is being notified, the Personal Representative (a.k.a. Executor) puts together an inventory of everything that the person owned at the time of their death. That information is filed with the court and becomes a public document. Therefore anyone can find out what the deceased person owned at the time of their death. After Continue reading