Real Property Probate & Trust Law Blog | Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section

This blog provides a forum for the discussion of issues pertaining to the law of real property, trusts and probate. Published by the State Bar of Wisconsin's Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section.

The section examines the law in these fields, monitors and recommends legislation, and generally assists the members in problems affecting the subjects of the section. Section members serve on committees to develop legislation, practice forms, and procedures, and sponsors CLE in numerous related areas of law, including estate planning.

Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin may join the section by visiting (login required).


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

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

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

On Dec. 22, 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (Act) was signed into law.

Two major changes made by the Act impact charitable contributions for tax years between Dec. 31, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2026 (the effective period for the Act):

  • The standard deduction was increased to $24,000 for married couples (filing jointly) and to $12,000 for individuals.
  • Itemized deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) are limited to $10,000 per year.

com bjkalscheur michaelbest Brad Kalscheur, Marquette
Continue Reading Charitable Planning after the 2017 Tax Act

Firearms require special consideration in an estate or revocable living trust administration, especially for a personal representative or trustee who does not own or have a general familiarity with firearms. This article is intended as a practical guide for the uninitiated.

For sake of brevity, subsequent references to executor include a personal representative and the trustee of a revocable living trust.

Step 1. Check and Secure

This is second nature to most firearm owners, but its importance cannot be
Continue Reading Handling Firearms in an Estate or Trust Administration

In 2017 Wisconsin Act 67 (effective Nov. 28, 2017), the legislature has enacted new statutory provisions affecting local governments’ consideration of conditional use permit (CUP) applications.


These provisions appear to have been adopted as a response to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ 2016 decision in AllEnergy Corp. v. Trempealeau County Environmental & Land Use Committee, which upheld the county’s denial of a CUP for the mining and transport of silica sand used for hydraulic “fracking.”

com MPeranteau
Continue Reading Legislature Enacts New Standards for Conditional Use Permits

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the oft-repeated saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

This statement is very realistic in its application to the long-term ownership and management of family properties. Many clients have fond memories of time spent with their families at the family property, whether that property is farmland, hunting land, or a cottage. Clients envision their children continuing the traditions that they formed together at the family property.

com mkampmann ruderware Melissa
Continue Reading Imperative: Succession Planning for the Family Property

The repeal of Wisconsin’s longstanding Deadman’s Statute – Wis. Stat. section 885.16 – became effective July 1, 2017.1 By doing so, Wisconsin joined the vast majority of states – and the Federal Rules of Evidence – which have either repealed, superseded, or never adopted the rule.

The Deadman’s Statute: Prior Application

The Deadman’s Statute commonly factored into many estate and trust disputes because it rendered a person with a legal interest in the outcome of a particular case
Continue Reading The Deadman’s Statute is (Mostly) Dead in Wisconsin