Madison Wisconsin Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help Farmers

Congress delivered the historic 560-plus-page Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and President Donald Trump signed it into law on the Friday before Christmas. The changes will affect 2018 taxes, not those for 2017. Here are 10 points that bode well for farm operators and small business owners:

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Do you really need a trust?

Although many people equate “estate planning” with having a will, there are many advantages to having a trust rather than a will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. While there are other estate planning tools (such as joint tenancy, transfer on death, beneficiary designations, to name a few), only a trust provides comprehensive management of your property in the event you can’t make financial decisions for yourself (commonly called legal incapacity) or after your death. 

One of the primary advantages of having a trust is that it provides the ability to bypass the publicity, time, and expense of probate. Probate is the legal process by which a court decides the rightful heirs and distribution of assets of a deceased through the administration of the estate. This process can easily cost thousands of dollars and take several months to more than a year to resolve.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What are Letters Testamentary?

An individual who has been named as a personal representative or executor in a will has a number of important duties. These include gathering the deceased person's property and transferring it to the beneficiaries through a court-supervised process known as probate. In order to initiate this proceeding, the executor must first obtain what are referred to as Letters Testamentary. In Wisconsin, they are called Domiciliary Letters. This document gives the executor the legal authority to administer the deceased person's estate.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What is Settlement Planning?

Settlement planning is a unique and expanding area of law that is designed to help individuals preserve benefits that have been received from a personal injury settlement, inheritance or judgment. The practice encompasses an array of legal services such as special needs planning, estate planning and financial planning. The objective is to assist clients with resolving claims and to create a structure to properly manage the funds.

Settlement planning is particularly designed for minors, individuals with disabilities, adults who lack capacity and individuals who are receiving public benefits. Without careful planning, those who receive a large settlement or other proceeds may have difficulty managing these funds.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gun Trusts: What You Need to Know

Recent tragic events underscore the importance of maintaining a dialogue about the responsible, accountable, and safe possession and transfer of firearms in our country. This is why it’s critically important for every law-abiding gun owner to stay abreast of all the complex and evolving gun laws.

For example, did you know that possession and transfer of any type of firearm to a “prohibited person” could result in a felony?  And, that in some circumstances, loaning, gifting, or sharing a particular type of firearm with someone is a crime, resulting in large fines or even conviction?

Not knowing the law could cause you to commit an “accidental felony.”  Ignorance of gun law is not only dangerous for gun owners; it is rarely the best defense.  If you own firearms, allowing others access to them involves another category of risk.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

A Moment with Wisconsin's Legacy Keeper: Jerry Apps

Building relationships with the families we serve; we hear so many stories of dedication to labors of love. We witness first-hand the hard work and diligence so many put into building their Legacy.  Wilson Law Group is proud to be able to share some of those stories.
Welcome to Spotlight On!



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Friday, July 7, 2017

Q & A with Attorney John Haslam: Special Needs Planning

What is special needs planning? 

People planning for beneficiaries with a special needs must address the following concerns:

  • How will financial benefits be used for their benefit?

  • Who will control and manage financial assets?

  • How can an estate plan be arranged so that the beneficiary with special needs can benefit from inherited assets for the rest of their life?

  • If the beneficiary is receiving government benefits, how can money be left to them without jeopardizing those benefits?

  • Money may very easily be exhausted in an ill-advised and rapid fashion.

  • Will there be circumstances when the beneficiary can assume control over inherited assets?

Read more . . .

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

3 Reasons Why Every Young Family Needs an Estate Plan

No one expects to die early in life, but unfortunately accidents and other unforeseen circumstances are not uncommon. It’s critical to have a plan in place that will take care of you and your loved ones if you pass away or become disabled.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Children With a Trust

Many parents believe that their “responsible” children do not need the protection of a trust. After all, if your child is good with money, why do they need their inheritance placed in a trust?

A trust can provide five main protections that won’t be present if you give assets to your children outright: (1) creditor protection, (2) predator protection, (3) divorce protection, (4) self-protection, and (5) estate tax protection. We will address each of these protections in turn.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

How to Calculate Your Estate Tax


In order to predict how much your estate will have to pay in taxes, one must first determine the value of the estate. To determine this, many assets might have to be appraised at fair market value. The estate includes all assets including real estate, cash, securities, stocks, bonds, business interests, loans receivable, furnishings, jewelry, and other valuables.

Once your net worth is established, you can subtract liabilities like mortgages, credit cards, other legitimate debts, funeral expenses, medical bills, and the administrative cost to settle your estate including attorney, accounting and appraisal fees, storage and shipping fees, insurances, and court fees. The administrative expenses will likely total roughly 5% of the total estate.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Only Constant in Life is Change

When Circumstances Change, So Should Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan was written to reflect your situation at a specific point in time –  and – as we all know – our lives continually change, unfolding in ways we might not have anticipated. Just like you meet with your doctor, financial advisor, or CPA on a regular basis, you need to meet with us on a regular basis as well.

In this issue, we:

  • Identify and provide examples of life changes which typically trigger a need to update your plan  
  • Examine how often you should “check in” with our office

The goal?  To make sure that your estate plan achieves your goals and works for your family.


Update Your Estate Plan if Any of These 6 Circumstances Apply to You

  1. Marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse
  2. Changes in financial status – good or bad
  3. The launch or wind down of a business
  4. Birth, adoption, or death of a child or grandchild
  5. Change in personal or family circumstances – including the need to replace trustees, address disabilities or addictions, moving to a new state, and more
  6. Change in your goals – such as changing amounts of inheritances, adding or removing a charity, and more

It’s not just changes in your life you need to think about - Congress, the courts, and the legislatures are constantly changing the rulebook. If you haven’t had your will, trust, or estate plan reviewed since 2012 or if any of these 6 circumstances apply to you, it is essential to contact us, so we can get you back on track.

Read more . . .

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With Offices in Madison, WI and Evansville, WI, the attorneys at the Wilson Law Group assist clients with Estate & Business Planning, Probate & Trust Administration, Elder Law and Medicaid Planning throughout Southern Wisconsin including Verona, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Cross Plains, Oregon, Black Earth, Janesville, Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Baraboo, Reedsburg, Richland Center, Mount Horeb, Monroe, Beaver Dam, Dane County, Rock County, Green County, Iowa County, Richland County, Sauk County, Columbia County, Dodge County and Jefferson County.

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| Phone: 608-833-4001
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