Articles Posted in Wills

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.

Over half of American adults and approximately 92 percent of adults under the age of 35 have not written a will. Most assume they do not need a will because any assets left behind will automatically be inherited by family members. Although assets may be distributed according to state intestacy laws, the process can be lengthy. With proper estate planning, however, you Designating a Guardian for Your Childrenmay be able to avoid placing any additional emotional or financial burden on your family after your death.

It is a good idea to create a will once you begin acquiring assets or start a family. In addition to designating how your assets will be distributed upon your death, your will designates an executor who will manage them until they are distributed. If you are a parent, you should also select a guardian who is likely to survive until your minor children reach the age of majority in the event both parents pass away.

Other useful estate planning documents include a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy. A durable power of attorney will allow your designee to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. Similarly, a healthcare proxy allows a designee to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated and cannot do so yourself. By designating a power of attorney or healthcare proxy, you may save your family from being required to take the matter to court in the midst of an unexpected healthcare crisis.

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The young often think of themselves as invincible in the sense that in their protected world, nothing bad can happen to them, especially with their parents around. Studies show that over 90% of adults under 35 do not have a will, providing reasons like:young-family

  • It’s not necessary.
  • It’s too complicated for me to deal with right now.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • My parents will take care of all that.
  • I won’t need it for a long time anyway.
  • It takes too much time

According to surveys done by USA Life Expectancy, adults aged 15 to 34 rarely die from medical causes but the figures are high for accidents, poisoning, suicide, homicide, and injuries. This suggests that for young adults, death often comes unexpectedly. Continue reading

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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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

Can You Do More with Estate Planning than Control the Transfer of Property?Most people assume the main purpose for a will and other estate documents is to control the transfer of property from the deceased person to his or her heirs; however, this is not the case. Estate planning allows you to control much more than the transfer of property. One of the most recent examples can be found in the Estate of Robin Williams.

In his will, Williams restricted the use of his image for 25 years after his death. In his estate, Williams left the rights to his name, signature, photograph, and likeness to the Windfall Foundation. The foundation is a charitable organization that Williams had established prior to his death. The trust is designed to prevent Williams’ publicity from being exploited after his death — for at least 25 years.

Other famous examples of individuals using their estate to accomplish their final desires in addition to the transfer of property include: Continue reading

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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