Estate Planning Tips for the New Year

Estate planning worksheet for writing a willThe New Year is the logical time for financial planning and estate planning.  After all, the start of the New Year is an ideal time to look forward and plan for the future.  Estate planning is the essence of planning for the future, both for you and your heirs.  You can make a very difficult time easier for them now—if you follow these tips.

Don’t wait.

This is one of the most common mistakes people wait: they wait too long to plan for the future.  Unfortunately, procrastination adds stress to their family and friends during an already tough time.  If your New Year’s resolution is to establish an estate plan for the future, don’t wait to consult a lawyer.

Make sure it’s legal.

As tempting as it is to jot down a few wishes on a piece of paper, a worthless document can cause more problems for your heirs during an already stressful time—and cost them more money.  To create a legally-binding estate planning document that eliminates any questions when you’re not there to answer them, contact an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable in your state and local regulations.

Don’t just file your will away.

A will is not a static document; instead review and update your will when you add more members to your family, your marriage circumstances change, there is a death of a beneficiary, or significant changes in assets. Ask your attorney for any other circumstances that would dictate a change in your legal estate planning documents. 

When your will is updated, avoid filing your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box.  If you put your will in a safe deposit box, you can make the process more costly and complicated for your family.  Your family may have to get a court order to gain access to the safe deposit box.  Instead, choose a fireproof, protected container for your document or ask your attorney for other recommendations for document storage.

Think beyond just drafting a will.

Many think of a will as a catch-all document with stipulations for almost any situation; actually, a will’s only purpose is to dictate the distribution of your assets when you die.  A complete estate plan also names a Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and includes other legal documents specific to your situation. To find out what should all be included in your estate plan, ask your attorney.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

Collaborative Divorce FAQ’s

typewriter typing divorce agreement after collaborative divorceContrary to popular opinion, ending your marriage is not a ‘one size fits all’ process—and not just because each couple has different finances and family situation.  The process getting from the decision to file to the final divorce judgment is different as well.  For some couples, mediation is the right answer because they feel they can come to a mutual decision on all major issues with some guidance.  In a more acrimonious situation, going to court is the only way to settle important issues for the final divorce judgment.  If you feel you and your spouse need a process somewhere in the middle, collaborative divorce may be the right process for your divorce.

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a hybrid of mediation and litigation.  In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has their own lawyer (who has experience and expertise in a collaborative divorce). The couple and their respective lawyers meet together to come to an agreement on major issues (i.e. finances, custodial, etc.) As needed, other experts also come to the meetings as well. These experts could include an accountant, child custody specialist, or other party.  With collaborative divorce, there is some time spent in a courtroom but that time is minimal because major issues have been decided.

Can a collaborative divorce save money?

A collaborative divorce can be less expensive than going to court for your divorce.  It can also be more convenient and take less time because you are scheduling the appointments rather than waiting for the next court date.

Is a collaborative divorce confidential?

An advantage of a collaborative divorce is the ability to keep everything confidential up to the final judgment.  There are exceptions; the best way to find out more is to ask your divorce attorney for information. The final judgment is a matter of public record.

How do I initiate a collaborative divorce?

If you are interested in a collaborative divorce, contact a local divorce attorney with experience in this area. Ask the attorney for more information about the possibility of a collaborative divorce at your initial consultation.  They can guide you through the process, and answer any questions you may have.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

5 BIG Reasons to Consider Mediation in a Divorce

WI divorce agreement legal paperworkLike most events in life, a divorce is not a one-size-fits-all process; even the process to get to a final divorce decree is different.  For some couples, the path is through litigation.  This is especially true for couples who cannot agree on important matters like child custody and finances.  If you and your partner can agree (or you think you can), mediation might be the right process for your divorce—and for very good reasons.

Mediation is cheaper.

During mediation, a neutral third-party (called a mediator) meets with a couple to come to a mutual resolution of all important matters.  For the process to be successful, both parties need to agree on those issues.  The advantage of the process is that it can be significantly cheaper than going through litigation.

Mediation is more convenient.

When you go through the court system, you have to be available on certain dates for court and other matters.  When you go through mediation, the mediator is often able to meet at a time that works for everyone—making the process easier on your schedule.

Mediation is confidential.

Unlike court proceedings, mediation is completely confidential.  All your discussions are kept secret, both now and in the future.  This is especially important for couples with kids, family members, or friends that don’t need to know the details of your marriage or divorce proceedings.

Mediation can shorten the process.

It may take quite a few sessions to finalize your divorce. However, because you can set up the meetings at your convenience the whole process may be shorter when you’re not waiting for your next court date.

Mediation is more in your control.

In addition to not waiting for court dates set by another party, litigation can put the final decisions of any issues in another party’s hands.  If you are in mediation, you are your spouse agree together on the final outcome.  For this reason, mediation is not for every couple, but there are clear advantages if the process is right for you.  If you think it is, contact a local law firm that can facilitate your mediation.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.