Estate Planning

In the summer flurry of packing and planning to transition their high school student to college life, many parents overlook the legal documents that can help families in the event of a student’s financial or health emergency. As many parents learn the hard way when their child suffers a physical or mental health crisis, the law generally prohibits a hospital or medical provider from sharing information about their adult child without their child’s consent regardless of whether the child
Continue Reading Home for the Holidays: Give the Gift of Legal Planning for your College Student

The circumstances involving Anne Heche’s estate are a stark reminder of the uncertainties that may exist following the death of a loved one and the issues that can arise even when someone thinks they have their estate plan in place.

Heche’s (Possible) Will

When the Emmy Award-winning actress died after a fiery car crash in August 2022, she left behind two sons. After her death, her former partner, James Tupper, the father of the younger of Heche’s sons, came
Continue Reading Anne Heche’s Will Contest: A Cautionary Tale

As individuals grow older, they are often inclined to add a child to their financial accounts to assist them with paying bills and managing assets. While this strategy is convenient, it can lead to financial abuse and can also derail estate plans.

A joint account is a financial account with one or more owners, who both have rights of survivorship. Upon the death of one owner, the balance of the account passes to the surviving owner without probate, regardless
Continue Reading How Joint Accounts Can Ruin Your Estate Plan

My husband just recently opened a new account at one of those online, do-it-yourself, investment companies.  He promises that with the tiny amount of money I was willing to allow him to experiment with that he will make us tons of money.  After he got the account set up, he asked me to sit beside him so he could show me what he had done.  As he was showing me the fancy website and all of the different gadgets
Continue Reading How is That Account Titled?

Estate planning isn’t just for the elderly. Young farmers can also benefit from taking a quick look at their own estate and succession plans.

It is not uncommon for the estate and succession planning process to focus on the older generation, as they may be the individuals that have the most assets to plan for, are aging, and/or have health issues. However, planning can be just as important for the younger generation who may be the future owners, key
Continue Reading Estate Planning for Young Farmers

COVID-19, the job market, and now inflation consume us. Older Americans and those with disabilities are more drastically affected by all three, especially due to the consistent need for quality caregiving services in an unstable economy.

In January 2019, a Harvard Business School Report compelled the country to acknowledge the “caregiving shortage crisis,” which has only worsened post the pandemic. Millions of seniors and people with disabilities require long-term services and support, and most want these services at
Continue Reading Drafting Caregiver Agreements that Combat the Caregiving Crisis

One of the most common questions asked by our clients is, “What is the difference between a will and a trust, and which is right for me?”  Last week, I provided a brief summary of the differences between these two common estate planning tools in a vlog.  You can view the vlog here.  In this blog post, I’ll provide more details about the distinguishing factors.

Wills and trusts share some commonalities, including:

  • You may use a will or


Continue Reading Will or Trust: Which is Right for Me?

The worldwide equity market tumult is creating some unique and unprecedented challenges. However, plunging asset values are presenting some rare opportunities in wealth planning that are often only seen once in a generation. Below are some strategies you may wish to incorporate into your estate and tax planning during this time.

Basic Estate Planning: Now, more so than ever, it is important to make sure your family is provided for in your estate plan. This means reviewing your current
Continue Reading Estate and Tax Planning During Market Tumult

Many of us became attorneys because our reaction to math was “Ugh, not if I can avoid it!”

Not to say any of us are bad at math, but after years of watching lawyer dramas, we didn’t exactly envision our legal careers involving intricate spreadsheets of income and asset classes, monthly care costs, divestment divisors, and so forth.

However, providing the best guidance to our clients often requires exactly that: a deep dive into what puts the client and
Continue Reading Basic Math in Elder Law

You’ve finally decided to meet with a lawyer to create an estate plan, and you’re thinking about whether you should create a trust. Or perhaps you already have your estate plan in place and its cornerstone is a revocable trust. Revocable trusts are a very common and effective estate planning tool – but can you separate trust fact from fiction? This snapshot will highlight some of the most common misconceptions about revocable trusts.

Myth #1: There’s a difference between
Continue Reading Revocable Trusts – Separating Fact from Fiction

We are often asked, “What is an estate plan?” An estate plan can mean different things depending on your unique personal and financial situation. We structure your estate plan based on many things, such as whether you are single, married, or divorced; whom you want your estate to pass to upon your death; and the complexity and makeup of your assets. Some individuals may need more estate planning, some may need less.

Here is a list of the typical
Continue Reading What is an Estate Plan?

On August 14, 1945, Life magazine photojournalist, Alfred Eisenstaedt, captured the spirit of the nation in his photo of a sailor embracing a nurse in New York’s Times Square. It was the end of World War II, and America was at the top of its game. Although the US had been late to enter the war, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, it was all-hands-on-deck. In his best-selling book, Tom Brokaw described the veterans and
Continue Reading The Great Wealth Transfer and Its Implications on Estate, Trust, and Probate Litigation


Established in 2003, Wispact, Inc., is a private nonprofit organization that maintains and administers pooled special needs trusts for nearly 4,000 individuals with disabilities throughout Wisconsin. What Is a Pooled Trust? A pooled special needs trust (PSNT) is a type of trust arrangement where there is one master trust document that details the pertinent definitions, powers, and duties that control all the sub-accounts created under it. A sub-account is created under a PSNT when a beneficiary or
Continue Reading Wispact at a Glance

On February 24, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published proposed regulations addressing the calculation and payment of required minimum distributions under qualified retirement plans (the Proposed Regulations). The Proposed Regulations are generally designed to address the changes to a participant’s required beginning date and payment of death benefits enacted under the SECURE Act.

Applicable to all plan sponsors, the Proposed Regulations update existing regulations to account for the increase in a participant’s required beginning date to age 72.
Continue Reading IRS Provides Additional Clarity on Required Minimum Distributions Calculations

As elder law and special needs planning attorneys, many of us are involved in what might be considered “extracurricular” work activities – i.e., all those things we do that flow directly from the profession we have chosen.

We serve on boards. We volunteer for nonprofits and organizations. We advocate for causes that are important to us. We coordinate with other groups and professionals who help serve our clients. We identify gaps in the systems we work with, and daydream
Continue Reading Elder Law Lawyers: There’s a Grant for You

You likely are aware, from the news and our prior communications, that Congress currently is considering proposals that may have a significant impact on many estate plans. Although we still cannot be certain which, if any, of the proposed changes will become law, we want to provide you with an overview of their potential effect on many estate planning situations.

The Proposals

You may have heard about two proposals introduced in Congress last year. One is a bill sponsored
Continue Reading Current Status of Federal Estate and Gift Tax Proposals