Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts
- Are you concerned about end-of-life health care decisions?
- Do you have specific wishes for distributing your assets when you are gone?
- Is your estate potentially subject to estate taxes?
- Do you have minor children?
- Do you have children from a previous marriage?
- Do you have a family-owned farm or business?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you should have some sort of estate plan.
Estate Planning helps clients to make the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next, or to charities or other persons. Estate planning also allows us to choose who will look after our minor children and even look after us if we are in need. By using estate planning techniques, our clients avoid estate taxes (death taxes), avoid probate and guardianship proceedings and ensure their children are well provided for even past the age of 18.
Proper Estate Planning is also essential for non-traditional couples to ensure that their wishes are carried out and that their loved ones are able to have the access and inheritance desired.
Some Estate Planning tools are wills, trusts, limited liability companies, family limited partnerships, insurance, powers of attorney, health care documents and deeds. Using these tools together with one unified plan can make a very smart way to plan for your family's future.
Trust. Trusts are the most flexible and powerful of the estate planning tools. There are many different kinds of trust which can be used for different purposes. For more in-depth discussion of trusts, please see our Trusts page.
Will. Wills are the basic tool for succession planning. Most people know what a will is, but fewer than 50% of people have wills when they die. If you have no will, the state laws control who will get your assets and who will watch your children. More information about these laws can be found here: Wisconsin Rules For Intestate Succession. For more information about wills, please see our Wills page.
Power of Attorney. Powers of Attorney allow you to designate another person to deal with your assets while you are alive. A Power of Attorney can be useful if you are unavailable (travelling in Europe), or unable (disabled, ill) to make financial transactions on your own. These documents are also very useful in avoiding guardianship proceedings. Where a valid durable Power of Attorney is in place, there is often no need to appoint a guardian of someone who has become incompetent.
Health Care Documents. Typical Health Care Documents are a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney. These documents allow you to specify what kind of treatment you desire if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. You can also appoint a person to make those decisions for you. Without these documents, the doctors and the law will decide what kind of care you get.
Business or Farm Succession Planning. People who own businesses or farms need to consider what happens when they no longer want to or are unable to run the business or farm. Business or Farm Succession Planning can be done through wills, trusts, insurance or other means. Depending on the needs of the business or farm, we help our clients plan for the future.
Family Limited Partnership and Family LLC. Family Limited Partnerships and Family LLCs are often used by people with estates of $3.5 million or more. Properly used, these can help reduce or eliminate estate taxes.