Articles Posted in Probate

guardianship-1200x600-300x150“Many of us have experienced the unexpected “telephone call” from a hospital or loved one that a sudden negative medical crisis has occurred, involving a member of your family.”

It’s never a good thing when you get a call and the person on the other end asks if you are sitting down.

A sudden death or medical crisis can turn your world upside down, especially if the person was not prepared with the right documents says The Union in the article “Estate planning in a time of crisis.” Your heart sinks and questions start flooding your mind. Will they survive? How far is the hospital and how fast can you get there? Will they end up in nursing care? Who will be able to help you care for them? Continue reading

accounting-calulator-paper-tape-1241883-640x480-300x225The 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

digital assetsEstate planning must now include intangible assets that didn’t exist just a few years ago, as well as those that have been around since people started owning private property. Today, says Forbes in the article “Estate Planning for Crypto And Other Digital Assets: What You Need to Know,” there are new kinds of property and new laws that govern them.

Some of the old rules still apply and you need a trust or a will. One of the things in that trust or will, needs to be naming a trustee or executor who will be in charge of ensuring that your assets are distributed, according to the wishes you state in your trust or will. When it comes to digital assets, things get a little tricky. Continue reading

pexels-photo-534204-300x166Eight attorneys representing individuals and organizations connected to the late artist Robert Indiana, creator of the iconic “LOVE” sculpture, are asking that future hearings be held in closed sessions to protect people’s privacy and the value of some of his works of art, reports Press Herald in a recent article titled “Attorneys want hearings on the value of Robert Indiana’s estate held behind closed doors.”

Atty. James Brannan, who represents Indiana’s estate, is requesting information in a testimonial hearing to better determine the estate’s value. Continue reading

pexels-photo-1193603-300x200Ensuring that your property is appropriately managed and disbursed upon your incapacity or death, is no longer limited to physical or financial property. Your estate plan now needs to include digital assets, the online accounts that are in your name, says the Journal of Financial Planning in the article “Don’t Forget Digital Assets in Estate Planning.”

If your will or trust hasn’t been updated in the past few years, chances are good it has no provision for your digital assets. This could create a larger problem than you’d think. Bank accounts, investment accounts and small business records stored in the cloud may not be accessible to heirs. That doesn’t even include sentimental items: treasured photos and videos that never made it to paper or your computer’s hard drive. Continue reading

pexels-photo-518543-300x200Assuming you are the type of person who still reads local print newspapers, you might wonder what those “Notice to Creditors” you sometimes see in the back pages mean. These notices are actually part of the probate administration process in Wisconsin. While it might seem antiquated to rely on print notices in the digital age, they do serve a critical legal function.

Informing Creditors of the Deadline to File Their Claims

When someone dies, their debts do not die with them. A creditor retains the right to seek payment of the debt from the decedent’s estate. But the creditor may not know the decedent has passed away, and conversely, the personal representative of the estate may not be aware of all of the decedent’s creditors. Continue reading

pexels-photo-630835-300x206Estate planning is important for anyone over the age of 18. It does matter if you have a small or large bank account, if you are a parent or not, or if you are old or young. A typical estate plan includes a will, durable power of attorney and advance health care directive, says the Pensacola News Journal in the article “Let’s Talk About: Estate Planning.”

What makes up an estate? Your home, cars, investments, bank accounts, retirement accounts and any belongings you own. Your will, which is also known as a “Last Will and Testament”, is a way to create a legally binding document with instructions as to who should get these possessions when you have died. Your will should also include directions about who will care for your children, if they are still minors under the legal age of adulthood. 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.
Continue reading

gavel-1238036-639x427-300x201Probate administration is the legal process of distributing a deceased Wisconsin resident’s property in accordance with the terms of his or her will, or if there is no will, under the state’s intestacy laws. Probate is also when anyone to whom the deceased owed money can present claims for payment. This includes health care providers, credit card companies, and even family members of the deceased.

Court Dismisses Son’s “Frivolous” Lawsuits Against Mother’s Estat

Under Wisconsin law, a creditor may demand “formal proceedings” in probate court to resolve any disputed claim against the estate. Probate court is the proper place to resolve such issues. In other words, a family member or other creditor should not initiate civil litigation outside of the probate administration process.

Continue reading

When someone passes away with property titled out of state, transferring those assets to their rightful owner can become more complicated than what should be expected from a traditional probate process. If you have property titled out of state or are set to inherit property from another state, you may need to go through what is called ancillary probate and potentially require help from an out-of-state lawyer to complete the process.

If an out-of-state resident passes away and his or her last will and testament expresses intent to pass real estate in Wisconsin along to someone, it will be necessary for the administrator of the estate, as named in the will, to file probate in the Wisconsin county where the land is located. The executor will need to furnish the probate court with a copy of the decedent’s last will and testament as well as documents showing that the estate has been entered into the probate court of the testator’s state.

There are two ways that real estate owned by an out of state resident can be transferred without going through probate. The first is in the event that six years have elapsed since the deceased’s passing when a copy of the will and out state probate are used to secure a certificate of assignment to transfer the title without probate. The second, “no personal representative has been appointed in this (Wisconsin) state for the estate of any decedent who was not a resident of this state at the time of his or her death,” the county Circuit Court may appoint an executor to take control of the real estate.