Madison Wisconsin Estate Planning Blog
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
I’m sure you have heard this less than eloquent phrase before – “Garbage in, garbage out.” The phrase is typically used in computer programming and scientific research. Unfortunately, it also applies to the law, legal documents, and writing your own Will.
What’s Wrong With Writing Your Own Estate Plan?
Legally, you have the right to draft your own documents; however, that does not mean they will actually work. Do-it-yourselfers accidentally disinherit children, fail to protect assets from lawsuits, trigger probate, invite court interference, give assets outright to problem beneficiaries, and incur huge fees to straighten out what can be a big mess.
Creating an effective set of estate planning documents involves many moving parts and deep analysis. An estate planning attorney will consider your family situation and financial status coupled with where you live and where you own real estate. Your goals and concerns are also carefully considered.
With a myriad of variables at play, how can a book of generic forms, computer program, or website possibly address all of these issues correctly? It simply can’t.
Even attorneys who don’t focus on estate planning are hesitant to write their own estate plans. Instead, they turn to their colleagues who understand probate and trust laws and are specialists in putting together estate plans that work.
Use Books and Software to Learn About Estate Planning, Not for Estate Planning
Estate planning books and software should only be used as tools to learn about the estate planning process. They should not be used a substitute for the hands-on, legal counseling from an experienced estate planning attorney.
While there are many tasks you can complete on your own, designing, drafting, and implementing an estate plan is not one of them.
What’s the Biggest Problem With Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning?
The biggest problem with do-it-yourself estate planning is that it often creates a huge burden for loved ones. It’s your loved ones who will find out you tried to save a few bucks and, as a result, caused a huge stressful mess that will cost thousands of dollars to fix.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, spouse, a sibling, aging parents and others if we should die while they are depending on us. Life insurance proceeds can provide extra income to help pay ongoing household bills and child care; pay off a mortgage, credit cards and other debt; pay for college; and pay funeral costs and other final expenses. (Life insurance also plays a vital role in business succession planning and it has numerous applications in estate planning.)Read more . . .
Thursday, January 15, 2015
It’s that time of year – the time for beautiful weddings, fun receptions, delicious cakes, special gifts, and romantic honeymoons. While this is a joyous time for everyone, it’s also time for you and your new spouse to plan for your future – for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Why Newlyweds Need to Plan Their Estates
Why should newlyweds care about estate planning? Because everyone – young or old, married or single – needs to protect themselves and those they love.
Unfortunately, many couples spend more time planning their honeymoon than they do planning the best way to protect each other.
What Happens Without an Estate Plan?
This fallout of becoming incapacitated or dying without an estate plan is serious, expensive, and painful. It often causes financial ruin and family discord, lasting for generations.
Without an estate plan:
- You will leave your spouse and the rest of your family in the dark – they won’t know what you would want to happen if you became incapacitated or died. This often leads to family fights as each individual champions for what she thinks you would have wanted.
- You’ll leave a huge burden on your loved ones to make tough decisions about medical heroics and the withdrawal of life support.
- The court or state law, not you, will decide who makes health care decisions if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
- A judge, not you, will decide who raises your children.
- The court can lock down your assets so even your spouse has to get court permission before making a financial move.
- Any assets you leave to loved ones can be taken by their divorcing spouses, bankruptcy creditors, medical crisis creditors, predators, and frivolous lawsuits.
- You may accidentally disinherit your spouse and your children.
- Your beloved pet could end up in a shelter or euthanized.
What Should You Do?
We invite you and your new spouse to contact our office to set up a meeting. We’ll walk you through how to protect each other and those you love; how to protect your beloved pets; and how to protect your assets and make things easier for you and your families. We look forward to hearing from you.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Did you know??
The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days.
From everyone at Wilson Law Group, LLC, we wish you a peaceful and prosperous year ahead!
Monday, December 22, 2014
From everyone here at Wilson Law Group, LLC, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is ensuring that their final wishes remain private.Read more . . .
Friday, December 12, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is making sure their disability planning is up to date.Read more . . .
Thursday, December 4, 2014
On June 12, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court—in a unanimous decision—ruled that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) inherited by anyone other than a spouse are not retirement funds and therefore are not protected from the beneficiary’s creditors in bankruptcy.
The reasoning is, because the beneficiary cannot make additional contributions or delay distributions until retirement, it is not a retirement account. There is, in fact, nothing to prevent a beneficiary from withdrawing funds, or even clearing out the account, at any time. As a result, these funds must also be available to satisfy the beneficiary’s creditors during bankruptcy. Following the same logic, an inherited IRA is also subject to divorce proceedings.Read more . . .
Friday, November 28, 2014
You have made the hard decisions, your documents are signed, your trust is funded, a business succession plan is in place. Congratulations, you have finished your estate planning. But have you, really? Have you explained your planning to your family? Will they understand how your plan will work and what they may need to do if you become ill or when you die? Will they wonder why you made certain decisions?Read more . . .
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Did you know?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust... Wow!
But let us not forget, this is a time for everyone to remember what it is we're truly thankful for whether it be family, friends, or something more.
Save travels and Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Wilson Law Group
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is their beneficiary designations.Read more . . .
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.