Wynn at Law LLC always encourages estate planning clients to check who they’ve elected as beneficiaries of their accounts and policies. Not all assets are distributed by or through a will. Some accounts, such as retirement funds and life insurance policies, let owners name beneficiaries for that particular asset.
Here are a couple of examples where missing or ‘wrong’ beneficiary listings can be a hang up for your decedents.
Estate planning clients often give much thought to avoiding probate (see related article). Wynn at Law LLC helps jog your memory to make certain you haven’t ‘forgotten’ an asset that would trigger probate. A common one forgotten, as an example, is the safe deposit box. Yes, banks still have them in the vault. In fact, it’s a common storage place for the Last Will and Testament. Why not? It’s safer than a home safe, and someone always has a key. But what else is in there?
When any of Wynn at Law LLC’s clients own real property in Wisconsin, we look at a Transfer on Death Deed (commonly called a TOD Deed or a TODD) to see if it is a suitable fit for their estate plan. It can sometimes wipe out the need to go to probate court, which is a time and cost saver.
There are dozens of intersections in life that call for an attorney’s insight. Wynn at Law LLC gladly steps in to advise clients who have reached those intersections, like bankruptcy or buying a home. One of the most emotionally taxing of the intersections is how to handle the decisions at the end of a life, whether it’s sudden or the result of a long-term illness. Planning ahead, before you reach this inevitable intersection, can make the situation more bearable, or at least manageable.
Wynn at Law LLC provides estate planning services – wills are one example. ‘Probate’ is a commonly used term in estate planning, especially these days when many clients have an estate worth more than $50,000. First, a bit on probate… then why $50,000 is an important number.
Probate is a court process whereby a will is legally ‘proven’ as the true last testament of the deceased. Essentially, the document is reviewed and validated. It came to be a more common process in the 16thcentury when greedy relatives (or non-relatives) began making phony claims on a dead person’s property. It comes from the same Latin roots as ‘probation.’ In probation, a person has to prove he can live within the law… in probate, a document has to be proven to be authentic and created within the law. Probation and probate have nothing else in common other than the root word, meaning proof.
One of the great rites of spring is the new crew of young adults graduating high school and heading off to their futures. When I’m not at Wynn at Law, LLC, I teach at Marquette University Law School, so I may see a few of them further in their academic journeys.
For students, parents, and grandparents, the issue of affording tuition is best tackled a few years before high school graduation. If you’re blessed with a full-ride scholarship or a generous gift from family, the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is a challenging hurdle you’ll skip. For families planning to apply for financial aid, here are a two estate planning things to keep in mind long before commencement.
Wynn at Law, LLC clients sometimes have a shocked look when we bring up estate planning. “We’re not dying!” “We’re not old!” The best time to set in motion an estate plan is when you’re neither old nor dying. No crystal ball or family tree can predict how or when you’ll age, get injured, or pass on.
Estate planning is sometimes overlooked because a client doesn’t think they have an estate. The fact is, everyone has an estate. Your estate is everything you own, including your car, home, other real estate, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and personal possessions.