Posts by LinLaw

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Posted on Oct 23, 2019

In 2008, the 110th United States Congress passed House Resolution 1499, designating the third week of October (October 21-27, 2019) as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  In doing so, Congress undoubtedly hoped that it would increase awareness with regard to the importance and benefits of estate planning.  However, a 2019 Caring.com survey found that only 43% of respondents had prepared an estate plan, compared to the 76% of respondents who believed estate planning to be important.  Some indicated that this was the result of procrastination, whereas others mistakenly stated that...

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You aren’t cookie-cutter, so why is your estate plan?

Posted on Oct 10, 2019

You may have seen a recent news article about the Will of Dennis Valstad, a man from Ripon, Wisconsin, who specifically bequeathed the sum of $500,000, in equal shares, to those individuals who attended his funeral.  To that end, the envelope containing Dennis’ Last Will and Testament instructed: “Do not open until after the funeral”.  Dennis, who had living siblings but no spouse or children, left additional instructions that, if an attendee felt they did not need the money (roughly $1,800.00 per person), they should donate it to charity. Dennis’ nontraditional bequest might not be...

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What is probate, and why does everyone want to avoid it?

Posted on Sep 25, 2019

During our initial meetings with clients, they often tell us that one of their goals in preparing an estate plan is to avoid probate.  However, they don’t always have a good understanding of what probate is or what avoiding probate might entail. “Probate” is, essentially, the court-supervised process of winding up a decedent’s affairs by preparing an inventory of the decedent’s assets, paying any outstanding bills, claims, or expenses, and distributing the decedent’s remaining assets to his or her designated beneficiaries or heirs.  The important phrase in that description is...

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What’s Mine is Yours – even if we move to Florida

Posted on Sep 11, 2019

Wisconsin is one of a minority of states and U.S. territories that operates under a marital property (aka community property) regime. What this means for married couples is that each spouse owns an undivided one-half (1/2) interest in “marital property,” which, as a general rule, includes any and all property acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions. The marital property regime provides various estate planning and tax benefits to married couples, provided that the marital property characterization of real and personal property is maintained. However, what happens to a couples’...

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Your Estate Plan is Not a Slow Cooker (don’t set it and forget it)

Posted on Aug 26, 2019

One of the cardinal sins of estate planning is to “set and forget” your estate plan. Estate plans are not one size fits all, and should be reviewed and updated as circumstances change. A common example is a married couple who implement an estate plan upon the birth of a child. They most likely appoint guardians for their minor child, and name close friends or family members (perhaps their parents or a sibling) as personal representative or trustee. Twenty years go by, and the couple fails to revisit their estate plan. Now, that child is no longer a minor, individuals named as personal...

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