An Estate Planning Attorney Will Help Protect Your Loved Ones
Some think that Estate Planning is only concerned with Wills and Trusts, but much more can be provided from a truly comprehensive and effective Estate Plan. Life for both yourself and your loved ones is made less stressful when consideration is given to important matters and steps put in place to deal with them. Currently, more than half of all American adults do not have a will or any other form of estate plan in place.
Whether you own a family farm in Baraboo, a small business in Janesville or a single-family home in Madison, your family will benefit immeasurably from a well-constructed estate plan! What is an “estate plan?” The core of an “estate plan” may be a will, trust, or other healthcare and financial powers, or any combination thereof, as your needs or desires make plain. Estate plans are as distinct as your family.
People generally believe they are best suited to determine who should inherit their possessions. However, without a will, Wisconsin’s intestacy laws govern who inherits someone’s possessions, including real estate, bank and investment accounts, and other possessions.
Usually, the spouse inherits everything. In the absence of children or a spouse, the estate would be divided among your nearest living relatives. Probate can be lengthy and expensive.
In addition to specifying the disposition of personal possessions, a will can also:
- Ensure your children’s security by naming the person you prefer as guardian;
- Provide for the future care of pets;
- Specify how final expenses should be handled.
Many people do not realize the power and flexibility of a revocable living trust. This is an extremely useful estate planning tool for managing assets both before and after the death of the grantor, the person who sets up the living trust. Establishing a mechanism that allows all assets to automatically flow into the trust upon the grantor’s death makes it possible to avoid probate. The grantor can control the assets within the trust or appoint someone else to do so. Since the trust is revocable, the grantor can change or cancel the trust if needed.
A well-drawn living trust safeguards property if the grantor becomes incapacitated, avoiding guardianship issues and the associated costs. The trust also offers more protection and control than a power of attorney. In short, a Living Trust has two primary and powerful functions:
- Avoiding Probate proceedings
- Avoiding Adult Guardianship proceedings (for an family elder who has become mentally incompetent due to Alzheimer’s or a stroke, for example)
Nonetheless, a Living Trust can have other valuable functions such as:
- Trusts for your minor (or young adult) children if you are deceased
- Divorce, Estate Tax or Medicaid protection for a surviving spouse
- Divorce, bankruptcy and creditor protection for children or grandchildren
The results are far-reaching and extraordinarily beneficial for your family.
Irrevocable trusts and special needs trusts are also extremely beneficial. Discuss the differing benefits with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
- A Financial Power of Attorney allows someone to designate an agent to handle their financial affairs if they become incapacitated.
- A Health Care Power of Attorney names an agent to handle health care decisions if they cannot do so themselves.
- Living Wills allow people to state what they wish done in an end-of-life situation.
Estate planning is invaluable in a variety of family situations, such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial marital property agreements, LGBTQ planning, issues arising from blended families, and charitable planning.
At Horn & Johnsen, we recognize that each estate plan is unique to the individual and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A comprehensive estate plan will take into account the particular needs of your loved ones, your financial situation, and incorporate your personal beliefs and values. It provides a great peace of mind to know that all possible has been done to continue to care for loved ones in the future. It’s a gift of love.
We say “Peace of mind for you, the ultimate gift for your loved ones.”