Articles Posted in Estate Planning

A couple came in that had been referred by another financial advisor. The couple had a teenage child and wanted to make sure that their “legal affairs were in order” because they had done no estate legal planning in the past. We will be setting up an estate program for this couple to make legal matters easy or nonexistent when one spouse dies, and then making sure that guardians and trustees are named for their minor child should something happen to the parents before the child is an adult.  The simple goal to protect and organize is accomplished.

Planning for unfortunate situations is a real concern for families.  Rather than relying on good fortune and the law of averages, prudent families plan for contingencies.  While the time and expense of estate planning seem like a “not fun” endeavour, dealing with the mess of having no plan in place is a difficult and expensive process for those left behind.

In this case, our “Essentials Plan” was put in place.  A set of legal documents to provide guidance and authority for this family and their trusted agents in the event of an unfortunate event.

Over the next several blog posts we will briefly illustrate the variety of needs we meet for our clients. While many people think that estate planning is the same for everyone, upcoming posts provide seven examples of some recent activity. This is to demonstrate that every family and every individual has a unique situation that requires unique solutions. Each family has a different situation and a different concern, so we thought we’d give you a general overview of their problems and how we are solving them so that if you have a similar problem you will know that you are not alone and there is someone that can help who has helped others in similar situations.

The facts will be anonymized enough for client protection but will be informative enough to provide value to the reader. I think you will see that Estate Planning is a varied practice, every situation is very different and you will learn the importance of an estate planning legal program that you and your family want and deserve!

• Keep your estate settlement simple;

Which Of These Powerful Secrets Could You Use To Build Your Ideal Estate Planning Legal Program

  • Keep your estate settlement simple;
  • Avoid the court-supervised Probate process when you die;

Are You Making Some of the Biggest Estate-Planning Mistakes?

There are some things we just don’t like to think about, much less speak about. The universal truth is we are all going to pass away one day. The legacy you leave can either simplify the process of dealing with your personal and financial property, or it can be a worrisome burden for those you leave behind.

Legacy planning is as important as your final wishes. So, as much as you avoid the topic, it can’t be — and shouldn’t be — ignored.

People often ask us to explain the difference between a revocable and an irrevocable trust. That’s a tough one because there are so many kinds of trusts and even irrevocable trusts can, within the Trust-300x225terms of the trust, allow certain things to be revoked or amended. But here’s our answer.

Most people who consider forming a trust like the concept of a “revocable” trust. The word “revocable” implies that you can amend, undo, change, alter, or revoke the trust. When someone hears that a trust is “irrevocable,” they often get concerned because that implies that things are rigid, fixed, inflexible, and control is lost.

The typical “avoid probate” trust is a revocable trust. There is no requirement that the typical “avoid probate” trust be irrevocable. Your home and other assets must simply be titled in the name of your trust when you die.

6d40ea6ed7ae7784abf574b8c6174543_300x300-300x200I met today with the children of a woman who is presently residing in a Madison nursing home due to her dementia diagnosis. The children had no idea how long term care and Medicaid financing for long term worked.

They told me that Mom owned a home, three annuities, some cash in the bank, and expensive jewelry and antiques. Their financial advisor referred them to my office. I asked them what they knew about long term care and Medicaid. They said they were starting to “hear things” but they wanted to get the truth.

I told them that if all of the assets stayed in their mother’s name, then their mother would be forced to spend her $475,000 of financial assets until she had less than $2,000 remaining. They told me that their mother was spending about $8,000 per month currently on her care. I also told them that – if Mom keeps everything in her name – then after Mom spends all of her finances, she will qualify for Medicaid, but then Medicaid will have the right to enforce its Medicaid Estate Recovery rights after Mom dies, forcing the house to sold after Mom dies to reimburse Medicaid for what they spent on Mom’s care after Mom spent all of her own money.

This July 4th, the U.S. will celebrate its 241st Independence Day! On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Two days later on July 4, its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and declared the 13 American colonies independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire. Check out the infographic for some fun facts to help mark the holiday!

How will you be celebrating this Fourth of July?

 

Independence-Day

The internet has turned the paper trail of one’s life into virtual confetti of online accounts. Sure, it’s not hard to find someone’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You might even be able to guess a password or two. But you won’t guess them all, and even if you could you might be breaking the law; in many places, accounts can’t be legally accessed by anyone other than the holder.

All that gray area creates the potential for Twitter, Facebook, email and other accounts to sit stranded online in a state of suspended animation. At best, they’ll be creepy reminders every time they prompt friends and family to wish a happy birthday to the departed. At worst, they’ll keep important assets, like bank balances, locked away.

There are currently federal and state laws that may make it a criminal offense for anyone other than the account owner to access an account. This is true even if the owner gives another person permission to do so.  By the end of 2017, it is expected that almost every state will have enacted some form of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. RUFADAA will allow for users to request a digital assetsservice provider to give a fiduciary access either by opting in on an online tool furnished by the service provider or through one’s estate planning documents.

The biggest challenge facing your estate may be finding digital assets after a death. If your family or named fiduciary isn’t aware that you have a Dropbox account, no one may ever look for it.

We recently partnered with Directive Communication Systems which provides personal representatives with a powerful solution for managing personal accounts. When the time comes, DCS works with accounts to implement an estate’s final wishes which may include deletion, transference, memorialization or other instruction. Even a financial institution can be contacted to initiate next steps for the attorney. With DCS, you can be assured that accounts will be managed securely and estate administration will be handled smoothly saving both time and anxiety.  Continue reading

Not all of a deceased person’s property has to go through probate. If the property had a properly designated beneficiary, such as an insurance policy, an IRA or a 401(k), those do not go through probate.
Additionally, because of Wisconsin’s marital property law, everything owned jointly by a married couple easily transfers over to the surviving spouse. However, if real estate is only in the deceased spouse’s name there may need to be a probate. Continue reading

We recently had some discussions with a Madison family that was trying to make the most of their father’s IRA and had questions about naming the beneficiary of an IRA. The family wanted to make sure that after the father died, the IRA would benefit one of the children, and then after that child died, the family wanted the IRA to be shared among the other children.

retirement trustThe family kept asking: “Should we name the child as the beneficiary, or should we name a trust (for the benefit of the child) as the beneficiary.

One of the children was married to an accountant. His suggestion (whether it has merit or not is debatable) was, “Don’t name a trust as the beneficiary of an IRA because I hate trusts.”

One of the children stated, “Dad wants it left to a trust for the benefit of a child so that Dad has the assurance that when the child dies, the remaining IRA would go to the child’s siblings.”

What should they do?

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