Safeguard Your Estate: Protect Your Legacy with Estate Planning
Creating an estate plan is a complex process, and ensuring your estate plan is strong enough to withstand legal challenges after you pass away is a good idea. Estate plans are living things – they should change and grow as your life changes and grows. An experienced estate planning attorney in Milwaukee like myself, Paul Margerie, can help you ensure your estate planning documents are legal, comprehensive, and kept up-to-date as you and your family go through life. Once you pass away, everything will be in order to ensure your wishes are carried out – even if your beneficiaries, family members, or others try to challenge your estate plan.
Safeguard Your Estate: Tips to Prevent Challenges
At Margerie Law, I help individuals and families prepare comprehensive estate plans to protect their future, with a focus on young families. While we’d all like to believe that, once we pass away, our wishes will be accepted by everyone in the family without question or confrontation, this is not always the case. If you’re concerned about your estate plan being challenged or causing conflict once you pass away, here are some tips for strengthening your estate plan.
1. Draft a Living Trust to Safeguard Your Estate
A trust is a legal entity that “owns” whatever property is put into it. You, the “grantor,” decide what property to transfer into the trust. A trust is significantly more difficult to challenge than a will, and those who are not beneficiaries of the trust or directly related to you cannot see the details of the trust. A trust is also useful in that it can help your loved ones avoid the lengthy probate process after you pass away.
2. Have a Medical Professional Attest to Your Competence to Safeguard Your Estate
If you are concerned that someone will challenge your wishes as set forth in your will by claiming you were not of sound mind when you wrote it, consider having your physician draft a notarized, dated letter attesting to your competence. This is especially relevant if you have experienced a brain injury or have a dementia diagnosis. If this is a concern for you, repeat this step each time you update your will to ensure the latest drafts of your documents cannot be challenged in this way.
3. Clearly State Disinheritance to Safeguard Your Estate
If you choose to disinherit someone, put it in your will. Family relations are complicated and can change with time. If you’ve decided to disinherit someone previously named as a beneficiary in your will, it is smart to outline this decision in the will. Rather than giving a reason for your decision to disinherit the person, the details of which could be challenged, it’s best to just acknowledge that you are not including that person as a beneficiary in your will.
4. Consider a No-Contest Clause to Safeguard Your Estate
A no-contest clause is not always appropriate, but in certain circumstances, it may help protect your estate plan against challenges. In general, a no-contest clause dictates that a beneficiary who raises a challenge to the will is penalized (usually by disinheritance). In the State of Wisconsin, a no-contest clause will not be upheld by the court if the person challenging your will has probable cause for their concern.
So when is a no-contest clause appropriate? If you have a beneficiary, such as a child or sibling, who is known to cause drama for its own sake and you’re concerned they will challenge your will for no good reason, drafting a no-contest clause could provide motivation for them to keep the peace unless they have a solid, justifiable reason for their challenge.
5. Ensure All Documents Are Legal and Align with State Law to Safeguard Your Estate
Mistakes related to how a will or trust document was drafted, signed, or notarized leaves your estate plan open to challenge, so ensuring all boxes are checked is critical. Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer to draft your documents is the best way to ensure you are in accordance with state law and protected against challenges of this type.
Safeguard Your Estate: Understanding Wisconsin Probate Laws
When it comes to estate planning, understanding Wisconsin probate laws is essential to ensure that your legacy is protected and your loved ones are taken care of after your passing. Probate is the legal process in which a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed according to their will or state law. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 5 tips for navigating Wisconsin probate laws and protecting your legacy.
1. Create a Comprehensive Estate Plan to Safeguard Your Estate
One of the best ways to protect your legacy and avoid probate is by creating a comprehensive estate plan. This includes drafting a legally binding will, establishing a trust, and assigning power of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions. A well-crafted estate plan will not only ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes but also minimize the potential for disputes among your beneficiaries. The State Bar of Wisconsin provides valuable resources to help you get started with your estate planning.
2. Understand the Probate Process to Safeguard Your Estate
Wisconsin probate laws can be complex, so it’s important to understand the process and how it may affect your estate. Probate involves several steps, including filing a petition with the court, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, inventorying and appraising assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets. Familiarizing yourself with Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 851, which governs the probate process, can help you better plan for the future and avoid potential pitfalls.
3. Consider Non-Probate Assets to Safeguard Your Estate
Not all assets are subject to probate. Some assets, known as non-probate assets, can be transferred directly to your beneficiaries without going through the probate process. Examples of non-probate assets include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and jointly owned property. By strategically designating beneficiaries and titling assets, you can help your loved ones avoid the time-consuming and costly probate process. The State Bar of Wisconsin offers more information on non-probate assets and their benefits.
4. Keep Your Estate Plan Updated to Safeguard Your Estate
Your estate plan should be a living document that evolves with your life circumstances. Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan can ensure that it remains effective and in line with current Wisconsin probate laws. Major life events, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of significant assets, can all necessitate changes to your estate plan. Additionally, periodic reviews can help you identify and address any potential issues or inconsistencies that could lead to disputes or complications during the probate process.
5. Consult with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney to Safeguard Your Estate
Probate laws and estate planning can be complex, and navigating them on your own can be challenging. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable guidance and expertise to help you create and maintain a comprehensive estate plan that protects your legacy and complies with Wisconsin probate laws. At Dahlberg Law Group, we specialize in estate planning, probate, and elder law services. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of Wisconsin probate laws and ensure that your legacy is protected for generations to come.
In conclusion, understanding and navigating Wisconsin probate laws is essential for protecting your legacy and ensuring the smooth administration of your estate. By following these tips and consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that minimizes the potential for disputes and complications during the probate process.
For more information on estate planning and to access valuable resources, check out the [Family Estate Planning in Wisconsin](https://learningstore.extension.wisc.edu/products/family-estate-pl