Why You Should Hire an Estate Planning Attorney in Watertown, WI

The global pandemic has changed how we view the world in countless ways, but there’s one aspect that has changed for the better: our chances of planning for our loved ones’ futures.

Today, 62% of Americans still don’t have a will. However, experts have found that more people have created or are planning to create one.

Preparing for future uncertainty is always a good idea, but it’s just as important to go about it the right way. While it’s possible to create legal documents without the help of an estate planning attorney, doing so isn’t always in your best interests.

If you’re considering creating your own estate plan, it may be a good idea to think twice. Let’s take a look at why you should consider working with an attorney for this critical project.

Local Attorneys Know Local Estate Planning Laws

The overall picture of estate planning looks the same no matter where you live nationwide. However, the laws of each state may vary in terms of minor details and nuances.

Some states have specific requirements regarding the types of assets allowed in a will or trust. Others mandate that your personal representative must be a resident of the state at the time of your death. Some states may even require specific formalities during the signing of estate planning documents.

In addition, even these minor details may change from year to year. The federal government, state governments, local court systems, and the IRS make small changes to the law all the time. For the average layperson, it can be difficult to keep track of these nuances.

In other words, when you’re considering estate planning in Watertown, WI, it’s important to work with a team that has experience specific to the area. The right attorneys can help ensure that all documents you create remain valid both now and in years to come.

Attorneys Help Create Indisputable Estate Plans

It’s possible to find anything online these days—and that includes cheap estate planning services and free templates and e-books. Access to tools like these might tempt you to make a do-it-yourself job of your estate planning in the hopes of saving money or time.

However, as stated above, the nuances of local law can be complex. Even an error in a minor detail of your paperwork can make the entire document invalid.

In some cases, the Wisconsin courts will not recognize certain do-it-yourself documents. Even if these documents are found valid, small errors or incorrect statements can cause delays when your beneficiaries try to claim your assets.

Because a local estate planning attorney will understand the nuances of local laws, you can be confident that your documents will be indisputable. If you want peace of mind in knowing that your beneficiaries will have the financial support they need after your passing, an attorney can help.

Estate Planning Attorneys Can Save You Money in the Long Term

If you balk at the idea of paying a flat fee for an attorney’s services, you may want to consider the long-term repercussions of not doing so. If you create an estate plan that is found to be invalid, your beneficiaries may have to pay professional fees, taxes, and court costs.

In other words, the mistake of do-it-yourself estate planning can cost your beneficiaries thousands in the future—in addition to the headache and stress of fighting for assets that should rightfully belong to them.

In addition, an experienced attorney may even be able to help you save more money on the front end. Attorneys are more likely to find tax and financial benefits that work in your favor, allowing you to safeguard more of your estate for your loved ones.

Estate Planning Attorneys Offer Objective Advice

On a psychological level, many of us have a complicated relationship with money—which reveals a lot about us. Most people view money as a source of comfort, security, self-esteem and more.

This can make it hard for us to separate our emotions from our finances. When our family members and beneficiaries are concerned, it becomes even more difficult to stay objective.

An estate planning attorney can help you take a step back from the situation, offering unbiased advice to help you make crucial decisions as needed.

A Lawyer Can Update Your Estate Plan

Estate plans are not documents that fall under the “set it and forget it” mantra. Most people experience life changes that require updates to a will and testament every six months to two years. Whether it’s your circumstances that have changed or your beneficiaries’, you’ll need to make sure that your legal documents keep up.

An attorney can help you revisit your documents as needed when your financial situation changes. Sometimes, all you’ll need is a simple codicil, and other times, you may need to reevaluate the plan as a whole. Whatever the case, an attorney can be a trusted resource for both you and your loved ones as you work to understand your changing legal needs.

Attorneys Can Help You Navigate Complex Situations

Though some people can get by with a relatively simple estate plan, most of us have complicated personal and financial situations that can complicate our plans for the future. In most cases, it’s helpful to have an attorney sort out the details of situations like the following:

  • You have minor children, no children, or plan to leave your children out of your estate plan
  • You own property outside of Wisconsin
  • You own your own business
  • You plan to leave some of your assets to charity
  • You have a substantial amount of money in retirement accounts
  • You were recently divorced or lost a spouse
  • You recently lost a family member
  • One or more of your beneficiaries has special health or financial needs

Estate planning can be complicated at the best of times, but anyone in situations like these should consider hiring a local Wisconsin attorney to help.

Create Your Estate Plan the Right Way

The decision to create an estate plan will always be an admirable one—but it’s important to do it correctly the first time. Working with an estate planning attorney can ensure that your documents remain valid, and the right team can be trusted long-term resources to help you navigate your changing future.

At Watertown Law, we’re here to help! With over 200 years of combined experience serving clients throughout the state, our team can help you create an estate plan that will protect your loved ones in years to come. Contact us to learn what we can do for you.

8 Estate Planning Tips Straight From the Experts

Did you know that nearly half of Americans over 55 have not taken steps to prepare a will?

This is not an easy subject to address or broach with loved ones. However, the year 2020 has taught us how unpredictable the world can be. Even a person with ideal conditions today can suffer a reversal of fortune. 

If you have not yet taken steps to plan for your estate, what can you do to make the experience as smooth and efficient as possible? Why not check out our list of estate planning tips? Simply read on to find out more.

1. Communicate as a Family

While we often think of estate planning as a priority for seniors, 2020 has shown that everyone should make a plan. Communicating as families regarding their preferences regarding their assets will make it easier to broach the subject with older family members. 

Each family member can consider what their healthcare preferences are. Further, they should consider how their possessions should be distributed if a disaster should strike.

2. Advance Health Care Directive

Making decisions about possible future care is a crucial part of planning for the future. A health care power of attorney will legally guarantee that your wishes will be adhered to even if you are not conscious or able to state your own preference. 

There are similar forms called a Living Will or Advanced Directive. You should discuss the differences with an attorney.

3. The Will

Your last will and testament is probably the most well-known portion of your estate and future financial planning program. While a person may think that a simple note or even a verbal contract will be sufficient, this is often not the case. 

Some states provide a statutory form to prevent disputes. In other locations, the state will provide recommendations regarding the information that a will should contain. 

4. Executor of Your Will

In the event of a death, a person will need to ensure that assets are distributed according to the deceased one’s wishes. The person who carries this responsibility is the Personal Representative of the will. 

If a person creates a clear unambiguous will, the distribution will likely be quick and efficient.

5. Granting Power of Attorney

A person planning their estate should also consider who can act as a Durable Power of Attorney. This person will have the authority to make decisions regarding the person’s assets and finances. 

What is the difference between a power of attorney and the personal representative of the will? The power of attorney assumes this responsibility before the person passes away. The personal representative is only granted responsibilities in accord with the written will after the person has died.

6. Retirement Accounts

A person will have worked all their lives to build up savings and perhaps even significant retirement accounts. These accounts will likely have beneficiary designations and after-death distribution will be controlled by the financial institution holding the account.

For this reason, it is good to ensure that you get legal advice from a professional that has experience on a range of topics, including taxation.

7. Bank Accounts

While it is relatively easy to distribute physical assets after a person’s death, non-tangible assets can create more of a challenge. These include personal bank accounts. How can a person plan to share these aspects of their estate?

A person can assign a payable on death beneficiary of their bank account. This means that the account will automatically be transferred to the beneficiary upon proof of the bank account owner’s death. 

Some have tried to accomplish this by setting up a joint account with the beneficiary. This person may be someone other than their spouse. However, this can create problems as the person has access to the joint account from its creation rather than after the person’s death. 

Also, the beneficiary has equal rights to the account. This means that if you choose to change the beneficiary and they are a joint account holder, you will have to get their permission to do so. 

A payable on death arrangement with your bank is a far more preferable arrangement.

8. Do You Have Digital Assets?

Many people are not aware of their need to make arrangements for their digital assets. Do you know what digital assets are? These include anything from email and social media accounts to memberships and other obligations a person may have.

While security is a priority and widely sharing your user names and passwords is never a good idea, it would be good to create a way for a person to care for these in the future.

The Most Effective Estate Planning Tips and Much More

While we never want to think about difficult future times, 2020 has taught us that the scene of the world can change very quickly. We all have a responsibility to manage our estate so that it will benefit the people we love the most.

By applying the estate planning tips that we have discussed today, we can do this effectively and efficiently. 

If you would like to benefit om professional help when planning your estate, then we are here to help. We leverage our experience in this field and provide our readership with reliable guidance and services. Why not contact us for more information.