Property Law

It is that time of year again. Summer is around the corner, and lakefront and riverfront property owners all across the state are starting to think about when to get their piers back in or what day they want to drop their boat in. Inevitably, this time of year is when neighbors old and new may start to interfere with other waterfront property owners’ rights to access the water. One of the many issues surrounding lake and river property
Continue Reading What are Riparian Rights & Why are They Important?

By: Attorney Jorge Fragoso and Law Clerk Quron Payne
Numerous actions may cause a person to be arrested and charged with a criminal offense, and the penalties they may face will depend on the specific laws they are accused of violating and the harm that was done to their alleged victims. While there are many different ways to categorize criminal offenses, many crimes can be divided into two broad groups: crimes against persons and crimes against property. The latter
Continue Reading What Are the Consequences for Property Crimes in Wisconsin?

March 2, 2022 – A company that obtained a written easement in 1980 to install a gas line beneath a homeowner’s property obtained a prescriptive right to continue using the gas line in 1990, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled.

In Bauer v. Wisconsin Energy Corporation, 2019AP2090 (Feb. 24, 2022), the supreme court unanimously held that a circuit court properly granted summary judgment against a landowner who bought the property in 1996 with no knowledge of the gas
Continue Reading Supreme Court: Company has Prescriptive Right to Use Gas Line Under House

Spring officially begins on March 20th – less than one month away.  In Wisconsin, that means wedding planning is in full swing.  One important item on many wedding planning to-do lists is a pre-nuptial agreement.

We hear a lot about “pre-nups” in pop culture.  One of the most iconic pop culture references is in the song “Gold Digger,” by Kanye West.  The lyrics caution getting married without a pre-nuptial agreement, lest you lose half of your wealth upon divorce. 
Continue Reading Marital Property Agreements: They’re Not Just for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

What is a marital settlement agreement? In an uncontested divorce action in Wisconsin, which is when you and your spouse have agreed on all issues, we call the marital settlement agreement the final agreement that you and your spouse would both sign and agree upon — all the terms and conditions that is then filed with the Court. At that point, the Court then accepts your agreement and grants you a divorce.

This gives you and your spouse certainty
Continue Reading Divorce: What you Must know about the Marital Settlement Agreement

As we head into winter, many people across the state will throw on their snowmobiling gear and hop on the approximately 25,000 miles of snowmobile trails we have in Wisconsin.

Snowmobiling is incredibly popular in the dairy state. There are more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles in Wisconsin,1 and we are home to the World Championship Snowmobile Derby (in Eagle River) and the International Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame (in St. Germain).2
25,000 Miles of Trails, Most on
Continue Reading Protecting Private Landowners: Recreational Immunity in Wisconsin

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

On November 1, 2021, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action (ASTM Committee E-50) approved a new standard for conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). The new standard, known as “E1527-21 – Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,” which was published by ASTM in November 2021, makes significant modifications to the previous ASTM Phase I Standard Practice (E1527-13) that has been in
Continue Reading The New ASTM E1527-21 Standard Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA)

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Of all the TV attorneys out there, Jackie Chiles is my favorite. Close second, of course, is Denny Crane, but Jackie certainly takes the top prize. Jokes aside, the title of today’s post is “Your Face, is My Case,” because we’re talking about likeness and image rights, sometimes collectively referred to as “personality rights.”

From Wikipedia: “Personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of one’s identity, such as name, image, likeness,
Continue Reading Your Face, is My Case: Personality Rights

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has further refined the standard for what is a continuation of a legal non-conforming use.  In Village of Slinger vs. Polk Properties, LLC  the Court, in a unanimous decision, set a clear standard to judge a municipality’s effort to enforce the abandonment of a legal non-conforming use.

Non-conforming uses, or structures, are created when a rezoning of a parcel takes place, causing the current use to not conform with the new zoning designation placed on
Continue Reading What Constitutes the Continuation of a Legal Non-Conforming Use

Easements can and do expire in Wisconsin as a matter of law. Even if they are “perpetual.” Even if they are in use. Even if they provide access.
Consider This Scenario
Jill owns Parcel A on First Street. The neighboring parcel on First Street, Parcel B, is owned by Frank. Jill’s driveway is located primarily on Parcel B, pursuant to a perpetual driveway easement. The driveway is the only means of accessing Jill’s garage, located behind her house.

Continue Reading Dealing with the Expiring Perpetual Easement Problem

Are you are a Wisconsin taxpayer who has objected to the payment of property taxes at the local Board of Review this year? If so, and you received a full hearing deciding the merits of your objection, then it is time to consider filing an excessive assessment claim if you have not already done so.

If you find yourself in this position, this is yet another procedural step you must take if you wish to further contest your claim
Continue Reading Like Clockwork: Time to File Wisconsin Excessive Assessment Claims

Every fall most estate planning professionals start looking for the release of the annual Revenue Procedure that announces federal inflation-adjusted numbers for the coming year. These include the estate tax applicable exemption amount, the gift tax annual exclusion, and the income tax rates, among others.For the first time, this past year also brought us a state number to look for.
July 1, 2019, marked the fifth anniversary of the effective date of our new trust code, Wis. Stat. chapter
Continue Reading Determining the Inflation Adjusted Amount for Termination of an Uneconomic Trust

“Transferring your copyrights to this living trust will activate the copyright termination right.”

Estate planning professionals who have never uttered those words may inadvertently have thwarted their clients’ objectives.

The copyright termination right (17 USC 203) can be little known among lawyers who don’t practice copyright law, yet it can alter the course of estate and marital property plans. Simply put, the termination right permits authors to terminate lifetime grants of any right under a copyright, and
Continue Reading Copyrights in the Estate? Termination Right Planning a Must

When is a cow not a cow? When it is part of a herd at a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), which means that the cow is actually 1.4 “animal units.”
A CAFO generally involves a farm operation with more than 500 animal units. CAFOs are mega farms, and have more in common with industrial uses than family farm operations.
CAFOs create large volumes of animal waste that needs to be stored, transported and disposed of. Housing so many
Continue Reading Who Is Your Neighbor? Buyers Should Beware When Purchasing Rural Property

Many parents worry about how their children are going to be able to afford college. Therefore, it has become relatively common for parents to fund 529 plans in order to save for their children’s college education.Parents can receive a Wisconsin income tax deduction for their contributions to Wisconsin’s 529 plan, limited to $3,200 per year per child for 2018. In addition, any distributions from a 529 plan that are used for qualified education expenses can be taken out tax
Continue Reading ABLE Accounts: Saving for Children with Disabilities