Posts by DVanStraten

Over the River and Through the Court to Grandmother’s House We Go

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A recently decided Wisconsin Supreme Court case has made it easier (slightly) for grandparents, great-grandparents and stepparents to receive court-ordered visitation of their grandchildren, great-grandchildren or step-children. The case of In re Marriage of Meister, 367 Wis. 2d 447 (2016) removed a previously held rule that a grandparent, great-grandparent, or stepparent needed to prove a parent-child relationship in order to secure visitation rights under Wisconsin Statute §767.43(1). The statute provides that certain people can apply to a court for visitation rights of children. ...

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To Gift or Not to Gift…That is the Question

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A gift is defined in the dictionary as: “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.” That definition makes a whole lot of sense. Think of gifts that you’ve received for your birthday, Christmas, or your anniversary. A box with a bow or an envelope with money in it, are the types of gifts that everyone understands. Describing these gifts would not make for a very informative article. The gifts I’m interested in telling you about occur all the time without much thought, but are...

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Leave a Dog a Bone

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Something that not a lot of people think about, even very serious animal lovers, is what happens to your pet after you pass away? As with most estate planning issues, the answer is: it is up to you. If you do nothing, a pet is considered under Wisconsin law to be personal property, and would be treated like a piece of furniture or that antique clock that everyone has their eye on. In some cases, there is a beneficiary willing to adopt your pet, or find a good home. In other cases, there is not. When that occurs, pets often are shuttled to an animal shelter, where they sometimes find a...

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Playing Keep Away: Exempt Assets

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Efficient planning for Medicaid qualification often feels like a game of “keep away”. What is the State going to be able to keep, and what can a person keep safe? One of the most important ways to plan for Medicaid qualification is determining which assets, if any, are exempt from inclusion in a person’s assets, or in the assets that a spouse is able to retain. Many people don’t understand what can be retained, and what doesn’t count at all when making an application for Medicaid. The most commonly exempt assets for a single person are: -$2,000.00 cash; -pre-paid burial and...

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The Probate Boogeyman

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A common theme we hear from our estate planning clients is, “I hear Probate is terrible, and I want to avoid it”. Most of the time, after further discussing the client’s wants and needs, it becomes obvious the person didn’t have any idea what probate was, or why they should or shouldn’t be afraid of it. Probate is the Court-supervised legal process by which the “Probate” Court determines that a decedent’s will is valid, determines who will be in charge of administering the estate (in Wisconsin that person is called a Personal Representative), determines who the...

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