Articles Tagged with wills

equipo-1251179-1278x825-300x194If you are young and do not currently have a lot of assets, you might think you can get by without an estate plan. The flaw in that reasoning is that you can never be sure how much your future estate will actually be worth. For example, even if you do not own much now, what if you die in a car accident caused by a drunk driver and your estate wins a multi-million dollar personal injury judgment? Who gets that money if you never bothered to make a will?

Milwaukee Parents Fight Over Litigation Proceeds of Son’s Estate 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

signing-will-300x200Wills differ from most legal documents in that the person making the will, known in legal terms as the “testator,” is not around when the document is executed. This is why all states, including Wisconsin, require at least two people to witness the testator signing a will. If any dispute arises later over the validity of the will, the witnesses can testify in court as to the fact that the testator signed the document in question. Continue reading

Accuracy is important when making a will. You want to be as clear as possible when identifying your property and the people to whom you wish to leave it. For instance, if your will says, “I leave my son my car,” and you have two sons and three cars, you have not clearly expressed your wishes. Such ambiguity can ultimately lead to costly, unnecessary litigation between your family members as they struggle to understand what you meant.

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Legal Description Helps Court Divide Property Between Niece, Nephew

Even when a court determines that your will was sufficiently clear, dissatisfied family members may still try contend otherwise. Recently, a Wisconsin state appeals court addressed just such a case. This lawsuit revolved around a will that contained a technically inaccurate, though legally sufficient, description of the deceased woman’s real estate. Continue reading

Wisconsin is one of nine states with community property laws that can have a major impact on how couples conduct their estate planning and pass on property to their heirs. The law holds that any property acquired during the course of a marriage is equally owned between spouses and in the event of a divorce, must be split 50/50. Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that take the law further to apply to probate laws.

Married couples in Wisconsin are allowed to have property as survivorship marital property, also known as community property with right of survivorship, which passes on the deceased spouse’s half of the property upon death. What this means is that when one spouse passes away, the house, cars, furniture, and other real estate automatically become the sole property of the surviving spouse.

Wisconsin Statute 766.60(5)(a) reads: “On the death of a spouse, the ownership rights of that spouse in the property vest solely in the surviving spouse by nontestamentary disposition at death.” This law was promulgated in 1986 as part of Wisconsin’s adoption of the Uniform Marital Property Act (UMPA) which sought to create more consistent spousal property laws across the country.

Creating a will and planning your estate is an incredibly important process that all adults need to think long and hard about, especially if they have children. Without a last will and testament, vital decisions about your estate will be left up to the courts or someone who might not be the best choice to oversee the process.

If you are married and believe you might not need a will because your spouse will naturally inherit the home and raise the children, you may not be taking into account some of the worst case scenarios. Should the unthinkable happen and both you and your spouse pass away with minor children, the decision over who will raise the children will be up to the courts if neither of you took the time to craft a will.

In that scenario, a court will need to choose a guardian to raise the children and oversee any assets that pass down. Letting a judge decide who will take care of your children can end up being an extremely emotional situation for some families, particularly if surviving family members disagree over who is best suited to take on the responsibility. If for no other reason than the sake of minor children, couples need to create a will spelling out who exactly will become their children’s guardian.