Probate & Estate Planning

For years, by including language in account agreements, banks have been able to apply funds deposited at their institution – funds that would otherwise be controlled by the account holder’s payable on death (POD) designation – directly to a decedent’s outstanding debt owed to that institution, without any need to file a claim (in court or in otherwise).

The following is an example of such a set-off provision, which may be found in an account agreement:
Upon the
Continue Reading Why Your Clients’ PODs at Banks May Be Ineffective

Simply transferring a farm to the next generation is quite easy.  Successfully transitioning a farm business for the mutual benefit of all parties involved, however, is much more complicated.  It takes time, planning and the weighing of a multitude of considerations.

Step One is to identify the successor.  Will the farm be transitioning to family or to a third party?  If to family, does s/he understand the commitment it takes to own and operate the farm business?  Doe s/he
Continue Reading Farm Succession Planning

By:  Attorney Alison C. Petri

Parents have many questions when their child with disabilities is about to turn age eighteen (18).  Once your child is an adult you will no longer have the same ability to legally access or assist with your child’s financial or health care decision making.  What legal documentation your child needs to get assistance with such issues depends on your child’s disability and their capacity to execute legal documents.

The goal is to implement a
Continue Reading Planning for Children with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood

“Probate” is a legal term for the Court process of transferring assets out of a deceased person’s name and to that person’s heirs and/or beneficiaries.  The difference between the term “heir” and the term “beneficiary” is that an heir is someone that would legally take if a person died without a Will.  A person’s spouse, for example, or children (if they have either a split family or pass away without a spouse).  A beneficiary is the term used for
Continue Reading Step-By-Step Overview of Probate

By:  Attorney Gina C. Ziegelbauer
This is the question our clients have when they’ve just experienced the loss of their spouse, parent, or other family member. It is a difficult time and everything can feel overwhelming. The answer depends on each individual’s situation, what assets they had, and the planning they had in place for those assets.
Not everything needs to be done immediately. I tell my clients to take their time to grieve and avoid making big decisions
Continue Reading My Loved One Passed Away…. What Do I Do Now?

Probate avoidance is one of many considerations in a good estate plan.  A revocable living trust is a common way of avoiding probate and is the best option for many (but not all) clients. However, a revocable trust will only avoid probate for the assets held by the trust, or payable to the trust because of a Settlor’s death.  Consequently, it is imperative that a revocable trust is properly funded.  Creating the trust is step one.  The second and
Continue Reading Fund That Trust

This month’s question is one I hear quite a bit: “I don’t have very much stuff, so do I really need to worry about doing any planning?” The answer is still yes, and for a few reasons. A couple of the most important planning tools individuals should have in place are powers of attorney.

A “power of attorney” allows an agent (a decision-maker) to act for another person in specific or general legal or financial matters. It also refers
Continue Reading Do I Really Need Powers of Attorney?

By:  Attorney Gina C. Ziegelbauer
As an estate planning attorney, I see first-hand how proper planning can save major headaches (and potentially money!) for the people you leave behind. But the reality is, many people pass away with no planning in place. So what happens then? What if you die without a Will?
Like so many of my answers, it really depends on your situation. If you die without a Will but all of your assets have payable-on-death, transfer-on-death,
Continue Reading What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

At first this question might seem unusual, but according to the American Pet Products Association three in five U.S. households own a pet, which resulted in an estimated $99 billion dollars spent on pets in the U.S. in 2020. It’s pretty clear that people are willing to pamper their pets. In fact, a 2020 study by the Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade found that an average dog owner spent over $1,200 per year on their pet, not
Continue Reading Can I Leave an Inheritance to My Pet?

By:  Alison C. Petri © 2021
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16, 2021 – this is your reminder to let your family know your values, goals, and preferences regarding future medical care.  Use this time to talk to your family to ensure you receive the medical care you want.  Under Wisconsin law, adults (not under legal guardianship) have the right to control decisions about their medical care, including the right to accept or refuse treatment.
This is
Continue Reading National Healthcare Decisions Day

By Attorney Gina C. Ziegelbauer
It seems like we’ve all received those scam calls letting you know your “vehicle warranty has expired,” “there is a problem with your credit card,” or that you need to take some type of action with regard to your social security, bank accounts, tech support, or who-knows-what. While it may be obvious to many people that these types of calls or mailings are a scam, unfortunately, fraudsters particularly target vulnerable persons who may not
Continue Reading What is Financial Exploitation?

By:  Attorney Gina C. Ziegelbauer
When people think of estate planning, they often think of a Will.  Although a Will is an important part of an estate plan, a Will might not do what you think.
Most importantly, a Will does not avoid probate for titled assets.  Your Will is actually the document that will tell the court how you want your estate handled if your estate does go through probate.  Your Will contains the instructions to your personal
Continue Reading Wills