Do You Have a Quality Estate Plan?
Let Us Review Your Estate Plan Today
As estate planning attorneys serving Ozaukee and Waukesha Counties, we know how important it is to review your estate plan to ensure your interests and finances are covered. Below, we give you a list of Red Flags that you can use to help identify where your estate plan might be lacking.
#1: Are You Relying on a Will Based Program?
This means your Will is the main document overseeing the transfer of your estate to your desired beneficiaries after you die. However, this can force your beneficiaries into probate, which is why you should consider taking alternative action that will allow them to avoid probate. This can save you thousands of dollars, years of frustration, and will help maintain your privacy.
#2: Do You Have Quality Financial & Health Care Powers of Attorney or a Marital Agreement?
Having these powers in place can help you avoid guardianship. If you are married, a marital property agreement will help you avoid traps. You can also take advantage of certain beneficial options under Wisconsin marital property law.
#3: Do You Have a Living, Revocable Trust?
A basic trust will help you avoid probate, and also ensures tax efficient distributions by avoiding the probate tax and other pitfalls associated with lifetime gifting. In addition, a living, revocable trust provides creditor protection for your beneficiaries (including Bankruptcy and divorce).
#4: Is Your Trust Part of Your Will?
Having a testamentary trust won’t allow you to escape the probate process, which is why it is rarely ever recommended by legal professionals. In all other cases, relying on a Will means dealing with probate.
#5: Are You Relying on a Living Will?
The Living Will is considered an antiquated document and has subsequently been replaced by the Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) in the last 20 years.
#6: Have You Marked The Questions in the HCPOA?
Leaving questions unmarked on the HCPOA shows a serious failure to understand the ramifications of these important decisions. If you are having trouble answering these questions, get assistance from an estate planning lawyer.
#7: Have You Filled in The Specific Desires Section In the HCPOA?
We strongly recommend that this section be completed separately from the power itself in order to avoid vague or confusing language that might cause your family to be forced into a guardianship proceeding.
#8: Do One or More of Your Documents Contain the Phrase “Attorney in Fact”?
The term “attorney in fact” was removed from statute more than 20 years ago.
#9: Does Your Agent Lack Adequate Gifting Powers or Other Advanced Authority?
These powers should be constructed in a way that will allow the agent to take emergency measures for Medicaid planning, tax planning, and other issues related to your estate.
#10: Are Your Documents More Than 10 Years Old?
There have been significant changes in the law, so even well-planned documents need to be thoroughly reviewed and assessed by an estate planning professional.
We Can Assess Your Estate Plan Today
If you realize your estate plan contains any of these red flags, it may be appropriate to have further discussions with our team of Ozaukee and Waukesha County estate planning lawyers. At Kitzke & Canfield LLC, we are committed to helping you with all of your basic and advanced estate planning needs so that you and your family can have peace of mind.