“Intestate” is the term used to describe the estate of someone who dies without a will or a trust. Each state has laws called “intestacy laws” that govern how probate assets are distributed, if someone dies without having a will, at minimum. These laws establish the inheritance hierarchy based on a person’s family structure. As explained in The Daily News’ article “’Are You My Heir?’-Who Inherits When You Die Without a Will,” all of your assets will pass to your next of kin, also known as your “heirs-at-law” or heirs in accordance to the state’s laws of intestacy. Continue reading
The Queen of Soul did not have an estate plan, a will or a trust when she died from pancreatic cancer recently, according to news reports. That’s especially surprising, said Investment News in the article “Aretha Franklin estate echoes planning problems of Prince,” since her estate has already been valued at as much as $80 million.
Franklin was not married, so the estate will pass to her four children. It’s similar to the situation that occurred when Prince died unmarried and without a will in 2016.
Had she been married her estate would have passed tax-free to a spouse and there would have been planning opportunities available at that time. Continue reading
Many estate plans fall into the “I love you” estate plan. This isn’t always how it goes, but it’s the rule rather than the exception, according to nwi.com’s article “Estate Planning: Excluding a loved one from the plan.”
The exceptions are mainly because the family dynamic requires it. For instance, the person is not married or doesn’t have children. However, sometimes even a regular old-fashioned “Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister” family has a reason why one or more of the kids are left out of the will. Continue reading
“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
Wisconsinites 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.
There 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.
One of the more complicated aspects of estate planning is that while probate, or the process of transferring property upon a person’s death, is normally controlled by Wisconsin state law, most retirement plans are governed by federal law, specifically the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA). The ERISA “preempts” or overrides state law to the extent that there is a conflict between the two. Continue reading
Picking an executor to your estate is an important part of your estate planning process and should be done with a lot of thought and consideration about who is best to carry out your final wishes and ensure posthumous dispersal of your assets. Sometimes referred to as the “personal representative,” the executor is tasked with protecting your estate by settling debts, paying taxes, and ensuring assets are properly transferred to beneficiaries.
Executors have tremendous power over an estate and must make an assessment of all the deceased’s assets and debts and may even be able to sell of or liquidate property to help settle those debts. For those reasons and others, courts do set a standard all executors must meet and even leave open the possibility of the individual being excluded from serving as the personal representative altogether.
Wisconsin law only has two written requirements for persons to serve as executors of an estate, which are that the individual must be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind. While some states exclude persons convicted of a felony from serving as the personal representative of an estate, Wisconsin places no such restrictions on the person assuming that role.
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;
Let’s face it. many people HATE paying tax. And many people hate paying income tax when distributions are made from their IRA.
We recently were working with a gentleman from our area on his estate plan. He owned property in Dane County. He had never been married and he never had children.
He wanted to leave some things and some money to a family member of his, but he liked the idea of setting up some scholarship funds. So, after quite a bit of discussion, he decided to name his college as the beneficiary of part of his IRA when he died. But he did not want the funds from his IRA to go into the general funds of the college. So, we are restricting the IRA so that it can only be used in a certain curriculum of the university. Now, he knows that students in his prior field will benefit from scholarships that he establishes.