Estate Planning

Farmers know there’s going to come a day when they’re no longer around to run their farms – and they know they should have plans in place for when that day comes. But farmers often delay planning because it forces them to think about difficult topics and make difficult decisions. The first step to beginning a succession plan is to pull together a team to help build and implement a plan. The team should consist of trusted professional advisers, successors who will continue the farming legacy and other family members to help make those difficult decisions. Having a strong team…
Earlier this month, I provided a very brief overview of the estate tax in a vlog.  You can view the vlog here.  In this blog post, I’ll expand on estate tax basics. What is the estate tax?  At its foundation, the estate tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of property upon death.  It is distinct from other taxes imposed on the transfer of property, including the gift tax, the generation-skipping transfer tax, and in some states, the inheritance tax.  For purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on the estate tax, but make sure that you subscribe…
It seems as if we are starting to see, once again, some of the actions of Wisconsin nursing homes that led to the original Nursing Home Reform Act. Now is a good time to take a look back and review what that federal law was all about. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 In 1986, Congress authorized the Institute of Medicine to conduct an analysis of complaints against the nursing home industry by its residents and their families. The study found that an alarming number of nursing home residents were abused, neglected, or given inadequate care. Further, legislation from…
On Monday, February 8, 2021, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Chuck Schumer announced that part of the December COVID-19 relief bill will include $2 billion in funds to FEMA for the reimbursement of funeral expenses for those who have died from COVID. Exact details are limited, but families will be eligible for a reimbursement up to $7,000 for funeral assistance. The funds will be available for COVID deaths dating back to January of 2020. Funeral expenses are often a source of stress incurred at a time when families are grieving their loss. Many funeral homes will require a substantial…
The Elder Law and Special Needs Section (ELSNS) Board has had a carryforward of funds from one budget to the next. While the board will use some funds in an emergency or for unforeseen circumstances, it also plans to spend funds each year to further the goals of the section, its members, and the public. Fund Policy The board has a policy to set forth the use of the funds. The board plans to spend funds on the following: Education, such as pamphlets, books, education materials, videos, or other methods to educate on elder law and special needs topics including…
Buying or selling a home is an incredibly exciting process. After all, it is often one of the biggest purchases one will make, and is often the most valuable asset in a person’s net worth. Unfortunately, the process of buying or selling a home does not always go smoothly. A recent decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Parks v. Wucherer is one of many cases that demonstrate why you should always hire an attorney when buying or selling a home in a trust or estate. In 2017, the Parkses purchased a home from the Wucherer Trust. Throughout the…
If 2020 has given us anything, it is the opportunity to become more flexible. Flexibility is key to any good wealth transfer plan. Below is a review of a few significant transfer tax planning considerations to keep in mind: 1. Gift and Estate Tax Exemption. The gift and estate tax exemption amount will increase from $11.58 million per person to $11.7 million in 2021. For married couples, each spouse can use the exemption, resulting in a combined 2021 exemption amount of$23.4 million (assuming proper planning and elections are made). Note: Per the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, on January…
It is becoming increasingly common for people to get divorced and then remarried. In these situations, one or both spouses entering into a new marriage usually has children from a prior relationship. Anyone who has children from a prior relationship and remarries should review their estate plan and make any necessary updates to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes. Under Wisconsin law, the assets of a deceased spouse who dies intestate will automatically pass to the surviving spouse. When there is a second marriage and children from a prior relationship, however, the assets of a deceased spouse…
In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande writes about how often medicine fails the elderly and those with terminal illness. His first example is a man who chose a surgery that didn’t stand a chance of giving him what he really wanted (“his continence, his strength, the life he had previously known”). Despite seeing his wife die in intensive care and resolving to avoid the same fate, the man chose a risky surgery that led, 14 days later, to exactly that. To Gawande, the remarkable thing was not the poor choice; it was…
On July 1, 2019, I did something I never thought I would do: I became “of counsel” to my firm. During most of my career as an elder law attorney, I planned to keep working until I died. I remember mentioning this to a colleague, Robert Fleming, when I was at his office in Tucson in 1996. Robert, Charlie Sabatino, Craig Gordon, and I – all National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) members – were at Robert’s office grading CELA exams. We were talking about our practices. I mentioned that I never intended to retire. Robert replied, “You don’t…
A proper estate plan covers not only what should happen upon your death, but also what should happen if you lose your decision-making skills. While planning for incapacity may be as unpleasant as planning for death, it is an important step in the estate planning process. Planning for incapacity ensures that someone you specifically choose and trust can act on your behalf while you are unable to do so for yourself. In another article, we discussed the importance of a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. Here, we discuss why a Power of Attorney for Health Care is equally as…
Nothing stops a dinner party conversation quicker than when people inquire of your profession and you reply, “I’m a lobbyist.” Lobbying gives people a certain impression – maybe created by movies or TV, or even by politicians themselves, who often swear off lobbyists on the campaign trail. As often the case, the perception is much different from the reality – and lobbying and advocating for justice and the legal system has never been more important. About State Bar Lobbying The State Bar of Wisconsin lobbying and government relations program is run much differently than other professional or trade associations. Cale
Various estate planning documents require you to appoint someone to act on your behalf. These appointees are your “fiduciaries” and include your personal representative, guardian for minor children, trustee, attorney-in-fact, and health care agent. Often times, people name certain individuals for these roles without much consideration, or they may consider the wrong criteria. Below is a general description of each fiduciary role and a few suggestions on what to consider when deciding who to appoint to those roles. In general, you should carefully consider the skillset each role requires and whether the person you would like to appoint possesses those…
As the pandemic continues to demonstrate, life has its shares of unexpected twists and turns that we cannot always control. One of the best ways to prepare for life’s uncertainty is by creating an estate plan. Unfortunately, estate planning is something that most Gen Zers and Millennials, like myself, are never taught about. Estate planning is the process of formally designating how you want your wishes to be carried out and by whom in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. While it might seem like a task that can be put-off indefinitely, a proper estate plan can save…
Note: This article was originally posted in the McCarty Law blog. COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, but especially on residents of nursing homes. Because nursing homes house our most vulnerable population, extra precautions needed to be implemented to protect them. This resulted in nursing homes being “locked down,” meaning residents were not allowed to leave, nor were they allowed visitors. Early on during the pandemic, we all saw heartbreaking pictures of families waving at a loved one through a window. In addition to worrying about contracting the virus, many nursing home residents also had to worry…
Some of your most significant assets, like your life insurance and retirement accounts, ask you to make beneficiary designations. If you make valid beneficiary designations on these assets, then upon your death they will pass directly to your named beneficiaries without being subject to the probate process. Click here to view our article on probate and why you might want to avoid it. Many people overlook the importance of beneficiary designations and neglect to name beneficiaries because they think their other estate planning documents will cover those assets. However, beneficiary designations operate independently from other estate planning documents, like a…