pexels-photo-335907-300x201There are some clear benefits to storing your will and documents online. You and your spouse (or other authorized people) can access them anytime, from anywhere. We are used to putting our lives online.  However, there are also some downsides to consider before doing so, according to a helpful article from CNBC titled “Here’s what you need to know before storing your will online.”

It’s good to have all your important documents in one place. Make sure that the people who will need access, such as executors, know that you’ve done so or the cloud storage may well be pointless.

Online storage can also facilitate family conversations about estate planning. Even tech savvy adult children who scoff at parents who don’t engage in social media, will be impressed by a decision to go digital.

However, there are pitfalls. Continue reading

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Retirement

“Many seniors may be more focused on their bucket lists, than worrying about having their financial affairs in order.”

Seniors should be having some heart-to-heart discussions with their spouses and loved ones about their wishes concerning their assets and their final days, according to Intermountain Catholic in “Retirees Have Several Financial Issues to Consider.” After a loved one dies, family members are often left dealing with the expenses of their medical care and funeral. To be left to deal with these issues while grieving, adds another layer of heartbreak. It doesn’t have to be this way.

digital-nightmare-1160104-640x480-300x225“What will happen to my online accounts, such as email, social media and digital music services, when I die?”

So much of our lives is lived online, that we don’t give it a second thought—until a person with an active digital life passes away. Then what happens? According to this article from the American Bar Association’s Real Property | Trust and Estate Law Section titled “Digital Property FAQs,” it’s not as simple as logging in using your family member or friend’s user name and password.

What happens to digital accounts after a person passes, depends upon the laws in your state and the terms of service the user agreed to when opening an account with each digital platform. Just because you are the executor or personal representative of the decedent, does not automatically give you access to their online accounts. The decedent must have given you specific consent following the rules of that social media platform. Continue reading

pexels-photo-684387-300x198Do you remember that episode of the U.S. version of “The Office” where Michael Scott thinks he can seek bankruptcy protection from his creditors simply by walking into the office and stating, “I declare bankruptcy!” Obviously, that is not how bankruptcy works. Yet, when it comes to estate planning, some people operate under a similar misunderstanding of the law; they think they can shield their assets from their creditors by placing it in a trust.

How the Law Treats Revocable Living Trusts

Now, there are ways to use trusts as a legal means of asset protection, but when it comes to a revocable living trust–the most common form of trust used in estate planning–that is not the case. A revocable living trust is a means of avoiding probate, not a way to avoid paying back your creditors. Continue reading

john-oliver-cabin-1212564-639x427-300x201“In the coming decades, baby boomers in the U.S. are expected to transfer an estimated $30 trillion in assets to subsequent generations. For many families in Minnesota, that will include the family cabin.”

One of the key markers of summer in many areas is crowded roads, as folks head out of the city to their summer retreats, like the Outer Banks of the Carolinas or the Berkshire Mountains. They know it’s summer in Minnesota, when the roads are filled with families headed to lake cabins. The tradition may not last another generation, according to MinnPost’s in “The uncertain future of cabins in Minnesota.”   Continue reading

hospital-6-1518170-1279x852-300x200“A bad medical diagnosis can make a person realize that he suddenly has far less time to get his affairs in order. What’s the best way to leave assets to your heirs? Should you pay off your mortgage?”

Receiving a terrifying medical diagnosis of a fatal illness, can leave you and your loved ones stunned and afraid. Once the initial shock has subsided and you have put the emotional and medical resources in place, it will be necessary to address the legal aspects, according to a recent article from CNBC titled “When end-of-life planning is suddenly a lot closer than you thought.” Continue reading

MP900442227-300x196“Our inherent nature to delay the inevitable, can lead the ones we care about into financial chaos. To avoid the chaos, careful preparation is needed when it comes to estate planning.”

Estate planning protects families, especially those with young children. It can eliminate stress, expense and unpleasant consequences that can last for generations. This is the message in an article titled “In the Works: Don’t Wait: Considerations in Estate Planningfrom Guidon. Continue reading

wear-your-heart-on-the-palm-of-your-hands-2-1314770-1280x960-300x225Wisconsinites are known for their charity and generosity. For many people, that charity does not end with their death. Indeed, it is common practice for individuals to make gifts to their favorite religious, charitable, cultural, and educational organizations as part of their estate planning.

The Orlando Sentinel recently reported on an unusual case involving a large charitable gift from the estate of a deceased farmer who lived in Brodhead, Wisconsin. The decedent inherited a substantial amount of his property from his own parents shortly before his own death in February 2015. In fact, at the time of his death the decedent reportedly owned land and property worth as much as $40 million, according to The Sentinel.

Under the terms of the decedent’s will, his entire estate would go to a teenage boy living in the Ukraine. The decedent believed the boy to be his biological child from a prior relationship, but the will required confirmation via a paternity test before the child could receive his inheritance. The child’s mother refused to allow such a test, which delayed administration of the estate until the child reached the age of 18 and could consent to the test for himself.

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crying-rose-1484179-1279x957-300x224Most of us do not want to think about our own funeral, but it is an issue we should all address as part of our overall estate planning process. Under Wisconsin law, you have the right to appoint a representative to “control the final disposition” of your remains. Normally this is the same person named to serve as executor of your estate, although it may be a different individual.

If you do not designate someone to handle your funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements, the law specifies an order of priority for who gets to make those decisions. The basic order is your spouse, your children, your parents, and your siblings. If there is more than one person in a given category–e.g., you have multiple children–then a majority will typically decide.

Parents’ Disagreement Over Son’s Funeral Leads to Contempt of Court Continue reading

residenceThere are many ways to own your assets. When you die, it is only natural that you want your family to share in the bounty of your hard work. As a way to simplify the transfer process and avoid probate, you may be tempted to add a child or other relative to the deed or bank account utilizing the ownership type of joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTwROS). However, while this type of ownership delivers a lot of potential benefits, it may also be masking some dangerous pitfalls.
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