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Wills & Estate Planning

Don’t put it off. Protect your family through estate planning.

Estate planning is not just for the rich, and it is not just for someone on the verge of dying. Good estate planning prepares your family for an untimely death, medical emergency, or incapacity. A good plan will ensure that your family will be protected. A good estate plan helps you transfer your property and investments where you really want them to go. And a good plan will protect your assets from needless legal paperwork, time wasting, and taxes. In short, a good estate plan gives your family peace of mind.

You may not need a complex estate plan. But knowing the basics can help you protect your family from needless legal paperwork, needless time wasting, and needless taxes after your death.   

At Hannula Halom & Scherz, we have the knowledge and experience to address any estate law matter. Whether it is a basic will, trust or complex tax-planning question, you can depend on us to provide the right solution for you.   

We will work closely with you to learn your personal financial situation. Then we will craft only the documents you need to help you achieve your goals in the simplest way.

We can help you with:

  • Financial power of attorneys
  • Health care directives or medical power of attorneys
  • Guardianships
  • Marital agreements
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Probate and trust administration   

When creating a will, trust or other estate document, we will try to understand your values and your goals. Then, when a major change or emergency occurs in your family or to your finances, we can easily adjust your plan for a reasonable fee. You have the security of knowing that you have a professional plan to protect your assets and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a will?
You are not breaking any laws if you do not have a will. However, there are many practical implications of not having a will that you should discuss with an experienced family law attorney when considering if you need a will or not.  

What are the benefits of having a will?
There are many benefits of having a will, including:

  • You decide how your estate is distributed.
  • You decide who will take care of your minor children.
  • Avoid a lengthy probate process.
  • Avoid legal challenges and unnecessary court proceedings.  

There are numerous other advantages to a will or other estate planning documents. You should discuss your specific circumstances with a family law attorney.

What is the difference between a will and a living will?
These two terms are often used interchangeably however they could not be more different. A will deals with the distribution of your estate only, whereas a living will is a health care document that expresses your wishes with regard to end of life decisions. Often times, it’s important to have both a will and a living will in place to deal with any circumstance that presents itself.  

What happens if I pass away without a will?
If an individual passes away without a will they are said to have died intestate. In Wisconsin there are clearly defined intestate succession laws that would govern distribution of your estate. In most cases your estate is distributed to your closest living relatives. However, don’t automatically assume that passing away without a will is a viable estate planning solution.  

What is a Power of Attorney?
Legally speaking, a Power of Attorney grants an individual the authority to act for another person in certain specified circumstances. There are two distinct Power of Attorneys to consider when making an estate plan. The first is Power of Attorney for finance, this grants the power to do things such as pay bills and manage real estate, among other things. The second is Power of Attorney for healthcare, this grants an individual the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so. It’s important to consider both forms of Power of Attorney when coming up with a comprehensive estate plan, your experienced family law attorney can discuss the pros and cons of each with you in more detail than was covered here.

What is a living trust?
Simply speaking, a living trust is a legal document that places your assets into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime. When you pass away the trusts assets are then transferred to pre-assigned beneficiaries. A living trust can be a viable alternative to having a will in some circumstances. It’s important to talk to an experienced family law attorney about your situation so you can work together to come up with the best comprehensive plan for your estate.

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