If you are like many people, you understand that planning your estate is extremely important, but still have not put a plan in place. As you contemplate options for creating a plan, it is important to understand the advantages of a well-written, customized plan, and the risks of a “one-size-fits-all” one.
Recent reports by respected sources like Forbes magazine and the New York Times report that anywhere from 57 to around 70 percent of American adults have no will. A 2009 survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that more than 70 percent have no living will. Why do so few people plan? The reasons vary, but many are driven by fear or uncertainty. Put off by these fears, some people gravitate to options they see as simpler or less intimidating. They may purchase a kit from the Internet or a book store, or they may accept a visit from an in-home salesperson seeking to talk to them about “avoiding probate.”
The Wisconsin Bar Association explained the risks involved in using a kit product or the services offered by a salesperson, especially when it comes to trust planning. “Do-it-yourself kits and formbooks are available, but these tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach, rather than meeting your unique needs.” The Bar also explained that some “unscrupulous businesses sell revocable living trusts, even if unneeded, to gain access to your private financial information. Then they try to sell you other financial products.”
It is important to keep in mind that a poorly-crafted estate plan can be worse than no plan at all. A plan that is not customized to meet your individual needs may not function the way you want, and may fail to achieve your estate planning goals. The documents you received through your in-home salesperson, or from your form book, may not comply with current Wisconsin law. Wisconsin has specific laws regarding the proper legal format for wills, trusts, powers of attorney and living wills, including what information the documents must include, certain language that is required, and how they must be signed, witnesses and notarized. Failure to follow these laws precisely may make your documents legally invalid and, therefore, useless. Additionally, trusts require significant follow-up work after signing the documents, to make sure they are properly funded. An unfunded trust governs nothing, making it, like an invalid document, useless.
To ensure that you avoid these problems, it is important to consult an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney. Attorney Daniel J. Krause, with Krause Law Offices LLC, offers services to help consumers avoid these hurdles and traps. We make “house calls,” whether to your home or other location (such as a hospital,) and we charge at one low flat fee for our work. Our services give you a plan customized to meet your individual needs and goals, and ensure your trusts are funded, which many estate planners ignore. Our services are designed to provide you with a professional, personalized plan, while making the process as smooth as possible.
Contact us through our website or call our office at (608) 268-5751 to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation.
What Is Probate And Why Should You Want To Avoid It?, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, Nov. 26, 2012
Considering Some Tough Wisconsin Estate Planning Questions, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, Oct. 2, 2012
Many Wisconsin Property Owners Would Benefit From a Revocable or Other Trust, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, Sept. 13, 2012