Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney
A will is a document where you are able to direct your personal representative (also known as an executor or administrator) to distribute your estate after seeing to the efficient administration of your estate. A will is not necessary in Wisconsin and Wisconsin law has created a set of rules, procedures and hierarchy for your estate.
However, if you have a second marriage, special gifts, a large or complex estate, a special needs child, or heirs that are likely to fight our your estate, then a will drafted by an attorney-at-law is most beneficial.
A handwritten will is not valid in Wisconsin unless it is drafted and signed correctly.
If you die with a will you have died testate; if you die without a will then you have died intestate.
If you place will provisions in a Marital Property Agreement, that will be treated as a will substitute under Wisconsin Law.
Do not forget about your minor children. When meeting with Attorney Andrew Schmidt he will need the names and addresses of your proposed guardians of your minor children and of your Corporate Trustee. Many parents – perhaps through experience – do not want to leave large sums of money to their minor children. A testamentary trust can be created for your children or other beneficiaries.
A trust is a contract between you (grantor or settlor) and your trustee for the benefit of another (beneficiary). This contract tells the trustee how to manage and dispense with the assets placed in the trust. A trustee has the highest fiduciary duty to the beneficiary. This means the trustee must treat and care for the assets in the most prudent, efficient and logical manner possible in order to comply with the terms of the trust.
Asking your brother-in-law ‘Reggie’ to watch over the money may not be the best idea. We have been saddened to learn of unscrupulous family members who have taken their families money deliberately or ill-advisedly. We advise our clients to use a corporate trustee where proper as the rewards far exceed the costs.
A Health Care Power of Attorney or an Advance Health Care Directive is a document drafted to appoint another person to take care of you when you are no longer able to take care of yourself. This person is able to make all of your health care decisions when you are no longer able to do so. This document will allow your ‘health care agent’ to talk with your doctors and receive information from your doctors so that they can assist you with your health care.
Having a valid Health Care Power of Attorney will probably avoid the necessity of a legal guardianship and the costs and headaches that will accompany having to do report to the Court annually the money spent and if where you are living is safe enough for you.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document drafted to appoint another person to take care of your estate (money, stocks, bonds real estate and so on) both personal and business in the event you are no longer able to do so. This person can sign for any purpose you so direct. They can only perform the transactions and conveyances you have permitted. Your ‘agent’ is not able to gift money to anyone with very explicit written directions as to what, when, how much and so on.
This document is very powerful and if you have made a poor decision as to your agent your money can be embezzled or stolen from your estate.
When you set up your Powers of Attorney – Durable or Health Care – you must make a decision as the whether the powers of attorney go into effect immediately or after your are found by two doctors to not be able to have the capacity to make your own decisions about your health care or your financial affairs.
Please contact our lawyer for an appointment to review your powers of attorney. This is one of the most cost effective legal documents you could EVER make up.