Articles Posted in Trusts

Top 5 Universal Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

As the saying goes, “Death and taxes are something you simply can’t ignore.” Both are inevitable and although most people understand this phenomenon and in turn, prepare by paying their taxes on a quarterly or yearly basis and others set up their estates to ensure that their affairs are in order and their families are protected when they make their transition. For many, however, death is simply too scary, safeDepositBoxpainful and heart wrenching and many people choose to not even think about it. Most realize that they will eventually pass on and have a general mental vision of what they want to happen to their estate but, for one reason or another, they fail to write it down or even when they do, they don’t keep it regularly updated. In fact, studies as recent as the last quarter of 2015 show that only 34% of Americans have a drafted will, while 69% have considered it but delayed doing anything concrete. Continue reading

Traveling? The Eight Estate Planning Must-Dos before Departure

airplaneIn 2014, the World Health Organization revealed that globally, there were 1.24 million road deaths, 1,320 deaths from airplane crashes, 78 deaths from train crashes, and over 4,000 deaths from motorcycle accidents. Statistically, though, motorcycle travel is the most dangerous, while train and air travel are safer.

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If you are a farmer or a rancher, you are hardworking and dedicated. Your farm or your ranch is more than just a way to make a living — it is your legacy. You have spent your life building something that you can be proud of and that you want to pass down to your children so that they can preserve what you have built and they can continue to provide for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, if you do not make an estate plan, your land and your assets may be liquidated cutting your legacy short and ending your family’s unique lifestyle choice.
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Estate planning is important for everyone but especially for those who own their own business such as farmers and ranchers. If you avoid making or updating an estate plan, your assets will be subject to state intestate laws. Instead of you deciding how your estate will be settled upon your death, the courts will make that decision for you. Below are three common estate planning mistakes farmers and ranchers make and how to avoid them.
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A coherent strategy for the transfer of assets is, of course, crucial to the success of any estate plan. But the best-laid plans will fall far short of expectations if the trusts so carefully drafted are never properly funded.

TrustIf the trust is the car, the funding is the fuel. Without gas in the tank, that beautiful sedan with the precision engine is just metal on four wheels. It’s not going anywhere. The same holds true for an estate plan . Until it’s properly funded, the “plan” is just a plan – a plan that can’t be executed. Like the car with the needle on empty, it’s not going to take you anywhere.

With basic wills, most of the funding happens after death through the probate process. By contrast, a trust can – and should – be funded while the trust maker is still alive. With proper trust funding we can assure that the client’s designated assets will be governed by the terms of the trust agreement. Without it, assets not properly transferred to the trust will generally fall to probate.

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estate planEstate planning is an important topic for everyone. Accidents and serious medical conditions can arise suddenly and it is important to be prepared. The need for effective end-of-life planning impacts everyone, even the rich and famous. Celebrities help highlight the need to prepare your Wisconsin estate planning documents.  Take for example Stieg Larsson, author of the highly successful Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Hollywood’s recent movie adaptation of the novel grossed more than $140 million. Unfortunately, Larsson died suddenly at age 50 from an unexpected heart attack. The author never prepared a living trust or will. Consequently, a lengthy legal battle over his $40 million estate ensued between his girlfriend of 32 years, with whom he shared a residence, and his family. Larsson’s estate was eventually awarded to his relatives.

Years later, Larsson’s family is still engaged in a court battle with his girlfriend over an unpublished novel that is allegedly in her possession. Larsson could have avoided the legal battle between his loved ones simply by preparing a living trust or will that clearly expressed how he wanted to divide his assets. By creating your Wisconsin living trust or will, you decide who receives your property and other assets upon your death. If you fail to provide for your loved ones in a trust or will, Wisconsin courts will distribute your estate according to Wisconsin intestacy laws, which may exclude certain people you would have wanted to include.

It is also crucial to create a health care power of attorney and a financial power of attorney well before any medical issues arise. If you are unexpectedly incapacitated, a health care power of attorney allows the individual you select to make any necessary medical decisions for you without heading to court. Making end-of-life medical and financial decisions can be tough on family members and often results in fighting. For example, although the late Etta James prepared a financial power of attorney that designated one of her sons as her decision-maker in 2008, her husband of 42 years challenged the document and claimed it was created after she became incompetent from dementia. Eventually, her husband and her sons reached an agreement regarding James’ care, but this does not always occur. You can protect yourself and your loved ones from legal battles by appointing medical and financial decision-makers well ahead of unexpected medical situations.

1221950_to_sign_a_contract_1 sxchu notify.jpgEstate planning is an essential tool to ensure your money and other assets are transferred pursuant to your wishes upon your death. If you are bequeathing money to a loved one in your will, it is important to keep in mind that large sums of money can be quickly and easily squandered. Financial advisers who work with individuals who suddenly receive a windfall say the money often vanishes quickly. Proper estate planning and the use of wealth transfer tools can ensure the financial well being of your family is protected. Continue reading

Over the years, we’ve discovered that many people make a BIG mistake, catapulting their assets and loved ones right into the probate court system. Most of our clients want to avoid probate court because it has a reputation for being expensive, time consuming, stressful952313_gavel – and public, meaning anyone anywhere can see who got what and how to contact them. Beneficiaries may become victims to nosey neighbors, predators, and unscrupulous “charities.”

Q: What’s the one mistake that causes all these problems?

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Convincing Your Spouse to Begin Estate PlanningYou and your spouse may believe you have plenty of time to plan for your future; however, you never truly know how much time you have or what may happen tomorrow. Losing a spouse or your spouse become incapacitated is a traumatic experience. This experience can be much more difficult and stressful if you and your spouse have not taken steps to protect your family. It is important that both spouses understand the reason or estate planning and the need to ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive and up-to-date.

Below are the most common excuses people give for not beginning the estate planning process sooner.

Five Common Excuses Why People Do Not Bergin Estate Planning

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Where is the Best Place to Store Your Original Estate Planning Documents?

After you meet with your attorney to sign your estate planning documents, you need to secure the original documents for safekeeping. In order for your representatives to act on your behalf, they need access to these original documents upon your death or incapacitation. There are several ways that you can store estate planning documents to keep them safe and secure.

Should you store your original estate planning documents in your safe deposit box?safeDepositBox

This seems to be the perfect place to store original estate planning documents because it is secure and safe; however, this could be a mistake. A safe deposit box at a bank or other financial institution is designed to be secure and private. The way the bank or institution guarantees that the documents will remain private and secure is to limit access to your safe deposit box to you and to anyone you designate as having permission to access your safe deposit box. Unfortunately, you may not want your appointees to have access to everything in your safe deposit box as long as you are alive and able to take care of yourself and your own affairs.

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Estate Planning for Baby Boomers1133299_mum_2 sxchu

According to financial planners interviewed for an article in USA Today, Baby Boomers are neglecting or simply ignoring the importance of estate planning. They are more focused on their retirement and focused on whether they will have sufficient income to provide for their needs and to do what they want during retirement. Ignoring the need to have an estate plan is not just a problem for Baby Boomers — no one really wants to think about their own death. People tend to put off estate planning because they think, “I will do that later.” Unfortunately for some, “later” is too late.

Why Do Baby Boomers Need to Have an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is an important part of your retirement plan. Your estate plan is more than telling your loved ones what you want to do with your property and financial assets after your death. Your estate plan also allows you to take care of your minor children, or grandchildren, and it allows you to make decisions about your medical care in the event you are unable to do so in the future.

What Estate Planning Tools are Available? Continue reading