Articles Tagged with estate planning

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

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

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.
Continue reading

laptop-user-1-1241192-300x225The Internet has made information more widely available than ever before. Online services also make it possible for many people to complete certain tasks and projects on their own–or at least, with a minimum of third-party assistance. Some companies have even gained popularity offering “do-it-yourself” legal services that purportedly allow you to make your own will or estate plan.

Is this really the best option for you and your family? While many people turn to DIY solutions because they think they are cheaper, estate planning is not the best place to look for discount providers who offer limited services. It is really not something you should try to do without professional assistance.

Keep this in mind: A will is not like a home renovation project. For example, let’s say you have a leaky faucet in your house. You might decide to try and fix it yourself, despite the fact you have no plumbing experience. In the worst-case scenario, you bust a pipe and need to call a plumber to deal with your flooded bathroom. If you make your own will and there is a problem with the document, odds are the mistake will not be discovered until after you are dead. At that point, the problem may not be fixable.

Here are some other things to consider before opting for a DIY estate planning service: Continue reading

retirement savings

money retirement

During your lifetime, your retirement account has asset protection, but as soon as you pass that account to a loved one, that protection evaporates. This means one lawsuit and POOF! Your lifelong, hard-earned savings could be gone.

Fortunately, there is an answer. A special trust called a “Standalone Retirement Trust” (SRT) can protect inherited assets from your beneficiaries’ creditors. We’ll show you what we mean.

When your spouse, child, or other loved one inherits your retirement account, their creditors have the power to seize it and take it as their own.

If you’re like most people, you’re thinking of protecting your retirement account? Here are 5 reasons we think you’re right. Continue reading

PR-300x225Many Wisconsin residents are appointed to serve as the personal representative for a family member’s estate without fully understanding the duties and responsibilities of the position. Handling an estate is not necessarily difficult, but it does require a certain attention to detail and the ability to meet specific legal deadlines.

The Basics of Administering a Wisconsin Estate Continue reading

digital assetsProbate in Wisconsin has traditionally dealt with two kinds of property – the physical and the intangible. The latter, intangible, refers to assets like bank accounts or stocks that lack a physical form yet serve as a defined store of value.

These days there is another, distinct type of intangible property that we all possess in one form or another: digital property. This encompasses everything from your email to your iTunes account with thousands of downloaded songs and videos. Up until recently, figuring out what happened with your digital property upon death meant looking at the terms of service for every company with which you do business. In other words, Facebook may say one thing when it comes to whether or not your estate can access your profile post-death, while Google may say something completely different with respect to the fate of your Gmail account. Continue reading

how-to-secure-a-mortgage-after-bankruptcy-slideshow-300x120One of the biggest estate planning concerns that we hear about from parents is that they are reluctant to leave a potentially sizable inheritance to their financially irresponsible adult children. This raises an interesting question that you probably have not considered in connection with your own estate plan: What happens if my child files for bankruptcy just before I die? Will my estate be forced to pay off my son or daughter’s creditors? Continue reading

tod-300x168There are many estate planning tools available in Wisconsin to individuals who want to transfer property without going through the formal probate process. One such tool is a transfer on death (TOD) deed. As the name suggests, this is a deed to real property that names a beneficiary who becomes owner upon the original owner’s death.

A TOD deed allows the real property to pass outside of probate, similar to how a named beneficiary receives a retirement account or other asset with a payable-on-death beneficiary designation. Keep in mind, however, that the beneficiary has no ownership rights under a TOD deed until the owner dies. The owner is free to amend or revoke a TOD deed at any point during his or her lifetime. Continue reading