Newsletter

Wisconsin Legislature Considers Online Notarization

Posted by on Nov 21, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The next time you need to execute a document in the presence of a notary public, you may be able to find one online! Assembly Bill 293 and Senate Bill 317 (introduced June 13 and July 10, 2019, respectively), if passed by the Wisconsin Legislature, would allow a Wisconsin notary public to become commissioned as an “online notary” who is authorized to notarize legal documents online.  Pursuant to the Bills, online notarial acts must be accomplished via communication technology, such as videoconferencing, which allows the notary to...

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IRS Announces 2020 Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Amounts

Posted by on Nov 7, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

On November 6, 2019, the IRS announced the final estate and gift tax exemption amounts for 2020, as adjusted for inflation.  The estate and gift tax exemption for 2020 will be $11.58 million per person, whereas the annual gift tax exclusion amount is unchanged at $15,000.  The adjusted estate tax exemption amount means that an individual will be able to shelter up to $11.58 million in assets from estate tax upon his or her death in 2020, and a married couple will be able to shelter up to $23.16 million in assets (assuming that portability is...

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National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Posted by on Oct 23, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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...

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

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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...

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

Posted by on Sep 25, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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...

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

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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...

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

Posted by on Aug 26, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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...

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Yet Another Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Senate Bill

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In an earlier post, “Dueling Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Senate Bills,” we discussed two different Senate bills concerning the federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer (GST) tax rates and exemption amounts.  On June 25, 2019, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) introduced yet another bill, the “Strengthen Social Security by Taxing Dynastic Wealth Act.”  This bill would simultaneously reduce the federal estate, gift, and GST lifetime exemption amounts while increasing the applicable federal estate,...

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Creating an Estate Plan for Your Digital Assets (and what they are in the first place)

Posted by on Jul 29, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In creating and implementing an estate plan, one category of assets is often neglected—digital assets. In addition to accumulating liquid assets and tangible personal property, we are increasingly accumulating more and more digital assets throughout our lifetimes. But what are digital assets? They can include: Photographs and videos stored in an electronic format; Playlists and digitally recorded music; Social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; Website domain names; Other information and assets that are stored...

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To pay or not to pay… to what state does my Trust pay taxes?

Posted by on Jul 17, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust (“Kaestner”), the Court held that a State may not tax the income earned by a trust based solely on the state of residence of the trust’s beneficiaries. Kaestner concerned a trust established by Kimberly Rice Kaestner’s father, a New York resident, for the benefit of Kimberly and her three children, who were North Carolina residents during the tax years at issue.  North Carolina attempted to tax income earned by the...

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