Estate Planning Basics

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
  • You can avoid a lengthy probate process
  • You can 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?
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. It's often important to have both a will and a living will in place.

What happens if I pass away without a will?
In Wisconsin there are clearly defined succession laws that would govern distribution of your estate if you die without a will (intestate).

What is a power of attorney?
Power of attorney grants an individual the authority to act for another person in certain specified circumstances. Power of attorney for finance grants the power to do things such as pay bills and manage real estate, among other things. Power of attorney for health care grants an individual the ability to make health care 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.

What is a living trust?
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 trust's assets are then transferred to preassigned beneficiaries. A living trust can be a viable alternative to having a will in some circumstances.

What should I include in my estate plan?
Each estate plan is different, and the right plan for you will depend on your family structure, your assets and your priorities. Our lawyers would be happy to discuss your options in a free consultation. Get in touch through our online form or call our office in Superior at 715-718-3621.