Estate Planning

Ruder Ware’s Trusts & Estates blog has featured several blogs (for example, Call to Action: Review Your Estate Plan in Light of the SECURE Act and Why SECURE Act Matters to You) on the SECURE Act, a federal law effective January 1, 2020,  that made significant changes to the payout provisions of inherited retirement benefits, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs.

The most dramatic change brought about by the SECURE Act was the elimination of the ability of
Continue Reading IRS Releases Publication on RMDs for Inherited Retirement Benefits (and, of course, creates confusion)

Much attention has been paid in recent weeks to President Biden’s infrastructure plan as well as its key sources of funding, including, among other things, raising the corporate tax rate. In the shadow of this legislation, two bills have recently been introduced in the Senate that would take direct aim at current wealth transfer planning techniques. While neither bill is likely to survive in its current form, a recent ruling by the Senate parliamentarian has made imminent estate tax
Continue Reading Estate Tax Reform – A Not So Distant Horizon?

An algorithm is a set of steps that leads to a conclusive result. Both humans and computers can process algorithms – even simple arithmetic is an algorithm. Computers use complex algorithmic formulas that reference large quantities of data in order to make automated decisions.

Governments, employers, insurance companies, and health care providers are dramatically increasing their reliance on automatic decision-making software. Decisions as diverse as evaluating risk during criminal sentencing, deciding where to prioritize police resources, sorting resumes, ranking
Continue Reading Algorithm Bias: Due Process versus Trade Secrets

In the United States Congress, there is an arduous journey before a bill becomes law.  See  But there is a common theme running through some gift and estate tax bills that have been introduced in Congress this year.  That is: an appropriate way to raise revenue (for pandemic relief, infrastructure improvements, jobs, whatever the reason) is to collect more taxes when so-called “wealthy” individuals transfer their assets through lifetime transfers and transfers at death.

In this context,
Continue Reading Proposed Gift and Estate Tax Changes Mean Some May Need to Act Now

Our team here at Ruder Ware has focused previous blogs and other educational materials on ways to avoid adult guardianship (see Related Articles section at the end of my post); however, there may be some instances where guardianship is unavoidable.  Earlier this month, I attempted to simplify the guardianship process in my vlog.  This blog is a continuation and aims to remove the mystery around guardianship for those unavoidable instances.

First, there are two types of guardians; a
Continue Reading Adult Guardianship 101

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,
Continue Reading Farm Succession Planning: Build Your Succession Planning 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,
Continue Reading What is the Estate Tax and How Does it Work?

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.
Continue Reading Why We Should Revisit the Nursing Home Reform Act

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
Continue Reading COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Approved Via FEMA

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:
Continue Reading Grant Opportunities with the Elder Law and Special Needs Section

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
Continue Reading When You Can’t Trust a Trust

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
Continue Reading A Look Ahead: Transfer Tax Planning in 2021

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
Continue Reading Estate Planning Considerations for Second Marriages

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
Continue Reading The Hardest Lesson to Learn in Elder Law

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
Continue Reading Life of an Elder Law Attorney after Retirement

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
Continue Reading The Importance of a Power of Attorney for Health Care