December 15, 2016
The Greatest Wealth Transfer, according to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, has already begun. Through estates, heirs are expected to receive over $30 trillion in inheritance before 2061. Add charities and government to the list of wealth transfer recipients, and that amount jumps to over $59 trillion. Considered a conservative estimate, this process will result in the largest transfer of wealth in history.
Wealth Transfer from Small and Moderate Estates
Most of the wealth transfers will comprise estates of ordinary people who have saved or invested over the course of a lifetime. For those who have accumulated any amount of wealth, planning is essential to make sure that your hard work is not wasted by inadequate estate planning.
It Isn’t Only About The Money
Passing on your house, hard earned money and investments is important. But even more important is making sure that your family knows your wishes – and that they follow those wishes. Proper planning can help keep a family together and avoid unnecessary arguments and hard feelings.
Too often families turn to an estate planning attorney only after a life-altering event. That can be too late to address all your needs as thoroughly as could have been achieved with proper advance estate planning. Advanced estate planning can pay for itself many times over in saved fees, court costs, nursing home costs, taxes and preserved family relationships.
What Can An Estate Plan Do
One of the goals of wealth transfer is to ensure that your money gets to the people or organizations that you intend to receive it. A proper estate plan can also make sure that your wishes and desires are followed in a private or public way, whichever you intend.
Our estate planning attorneys will help make sure that your money is used in the way that your intend, and, the amount that goes to the government through court costs and taxes is minimized.
What Can Go Wrong with Wealth Transfers
No Estate Plan
If you don’t have an estate plan, you can expect higher post-death fees, public probate with added costs and fees. A trust plan can reduce or eliminate many of these unnecessary costs and expenses. It can also keep your financial matters private, if that is desired. Most importantly, as mentioned above, a trust or will can help avoid misunderstandings and disagreements amongst your family and loved ones.
If you don’t have an estate plan, you have no control over the future. You are leaving your legacy to chance and the State of Wisconsin legislature, courts and Wisconsin probate statutes to decide what will happen.
In our experience, lack of a proper estate plan also greatly increases the risk that your family members will disagree on what you wanted and that they will have to deal with probate court or guardianship court.
Only a Last Will and Testament (Will)
Often, a will alone is not enough. A will cannot avoid probate. A will does not address the issues that come up if you are deemed unable to handle your health care or financial decisions during lifetime. A will can be a good start, but it has very specific and finite limitations.
Avoiding Guardianships – Powers of Attorney
At Wokwicz Law Offices, we recommend two types of Powers of Attorney: A Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care, also referred to as an advance directive, sets forth who can make health care decisions for you and sets forth your health care desires.
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney sets forth who can take care of financial decisions for your during your lifetime if you are unable to do so.
Avoid court appointed guardians and the expense and difficulty of court hearing. Property drafted Powers of Attorney almost always eliminate the need for guardians.
Not Reviewing Your Estate Plan
An estate plan is not simply a set of documents, but rather, a set of documents tailored to your unique financial and family situation. As your life changes, so should your estate plan. Your estate plan should reflect your current desires and wishes and normally avoid probate and the need for guardianships. If there have been significant life changes, such as marriage, divorce, deaths, or moving to Wisconsin, your estate plan should be updated.
Nursing Home Costs
Not planning for the possibility of an extended stay in a nursing home, could reduce or eliminate your savings and other assets. Protecting some assets, such as a house or cabin, through the use of an irrevocable trust or gifting, is appropriate for some of our clients. Reviewing and knowing the options available to protect assets from Medicaid and nursing homes is an important first step in determining if nursing home asset protection is right for you.
Do Not Make Your Own Plan
As estate planning lawyers serving clients since 1958, we implore you not to attempt to create your own estate plan. We ask that you do not rely on non-estate planning attorneys or inexperienced estate planning lawyers.
Our firm has literally created thousands of estate plans and has been involved in thousands of post-death probate, trust and other administrations. We know what can go wrong and how to make your estate planning process go right.
Experience matters when dealing with trusts, wills, and other estate planning matters. Most estate plans require a combination of asset titling, documents, and other estate planning techniques to work properly. Doing it on your own, or with an inexperienced attorney or non-attorney, is a recipe for unnecessary costs, expenses, and mistakes.
Get Control over Your Future
Control your future. Don’t let the Kenosha Courts and laws of Wisconsin control you and your assets. Proper estate planning is an investment that will easily pay for itself in both time, money, and family harmony. Do it for yourself and your loved ones proactively, not after there is a crisis or after it is too late. Contact us today to see how we can help.