Mark S. Sweet Announces Candidacy for Judge

Attorney Mark S. Sweet has announced that he will seek the Municipal Judge position for the City of Watertown in the 2015 spring election. Attorney Sweet would succeed Municipal Judge Ron Ziwisky, who announced earlier this year he would be retiring at the end of his term. Attorney Sweet is the first person to announce his candidacy for the upcoming election.

Attorney Sweet has been a partner with Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP since 1993, having originally joined the firm in 1991. Attorney Sweet looks to continue the firm’s tradition of judicial service. Previously, George E. Niemann, Arnold K. Schumann, John M. Ullsvik, and William H. Woodard, all affiliated with the firm during its history, have served as Circuit Court Judges.

Attorney Sweet will remain an active attorney and continue to practice with the firm if elected as Municipal Judge. Attorney Sweet practices in a range of areas, with particular expertise in the representation of individuals injured in accidents. He is admitted to practice law in California and Wisconsin. Attorney Sweet is a member of both the California Bar Association and Wisconsin Bar Association, a sustaining member of the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, and holds membership in the American Trial Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Dodge County Bar Association, and Jefferson County Bar Association. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP has served clients from our offices in Watertown and Lake Mills since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Importance of Advance Directives

Often when people think of estate planning they are focused on the disposition of their assets and minimizing tax implication. However, advance directives are a very important component of any estate plan and they are relevant for every person regardless of their wealth. Advance directives are legal instructions that express your wishes regarding your financial and health care decisions. If an individual has not previously executed advance directives and can no longer make decisions for themselves due to an accident, illness, or mental affliction, legal proceedings in court to appoint a guardian for the individual will likely be necessary. An individual’s family members are not automatically authorized to make decisions for incapacitated family members because Wisconsin is not a “next of kin” or “family consent” state. Guardianship proceedings are exceedingly more lengthy, costly, stressful and public then advance directives.

In Wisconsin there are four different advance directives authorized by statute. The first is the Power of Attorney for Finance and Property. This document grants authority to another person, known as an “agent,” to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. The powers granted can be broad or limited in scope. Your agent can assist you with your personal finances, insurance policies, government benefits, estate plan, taxes, bank accounts, retirement plans, business interests and essentially any other financial matter.

The second and third advance directives in Wisconsin are the Power of Attorney for Health Care and Declaration to Physicians (a/k/a Living Will). These documents both deal with health care decisions, although the Declaration to Physicians is much more limited in scope. A Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint an agent to make any health care decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. A Declaration to Physicians allows you to only state your preferences regarding receiving or withholding life-sustaining medical treatment if you have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state.

The final advance directive available in Wisconsin is the Authorization for Final Disposition. The Authorization for Final Disposition allows an individual, known as the “declarant,” to designate and individual to make funeral arrangements upon the declarant’s death. Further, it also allows the declarant to detail their preferences and desires regarding their final disposition and funeral service.

As indicated, advance directives are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement, especially in comparison to the procedure necessary if an individual does not have such documents in place. As with all estate planning issues, it is important to discuss the impact of advance directives with a knowledgeable attorney.

Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP has served clients from our offices in Watertown and Lake Mills since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Former Partner John A. Neupert Passes Away

John A. Neupert, former partner with Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP, passed away on February 15, 2015.

Atty. Neupert received his high school diploma from Lake Mills High School in 1950, his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1955, and his juris doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1962. From 1964 to 1968, he served as District Attorney for Jefferson County. Afterwards he began practicing law in Lake Mills with Robert Ferry and, in 1974, began practicing with Thomas O. Wakeman. Their firm ultimately merged with another to create what is today known as Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP. Atty. Neupert retired from the practice of law in 1997, but remained active in the day to day operation of the Bank of Lake Mills, where he served as a member of the Board of Directors since 1967 and president since 1970.

During his extraordinary life, Atty. Neupert also served as a member of the Board of Directors and as president of L.D. Fargo Library for almost 50 years. He was on the Civil Service Commission, the Highway Safety Committee, and served on the Board of the Lake Mills Emergency Medical Service. In addition, Atty. Neupert was on the Board for the Jefferson County Humane Society, was past president and member of the Lake Mills Rotary, and was Board Director for 11 years for Fort Memorial Hospital. Finally, Atty. Neupert retired as a Captain after 22 years combined in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves.

The attorneys and staff of Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP wish to express their deepest condolences to Atty. Neupert’s entire family. Memorial services will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at United Methodist Church in Lake Mills.

Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP has served clients from our offices in Watertown and Lake Mills since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Firm Changes Name to Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet is pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2015 our firm’s name will change to Neuberger, Griggs, Sweet & Smith, LLP. Further, to ensure clients will continue to be provided with the same quality legal services our firm has provided since its inception in 1922, effective January 1, 2015 our firm will be registered as a limited liability partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court requires law firms that operate as a limited liability partnership to advise clients and prospective clients that the law governing this type of limited liability partnership shields its owners from vicarious liability. This means that in the event of an error, our firm and its insurer may be liable, as may the attorneys who worked on or directly supervised the matter, but not other attorneys who did not work on or directly supervise the matter. As always, our firm is in compliance with all requirements of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If you have any questions regarding our firm’s new name or its registration as a limited liability partnership, please contact our office for more information.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown and Lake Mills since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Former Partner Thomas O. Wakeman Passes Away

Thomas O. Wakeman, former partner with Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs & Sweet, passed away on September 20, 2014 while visiting family in Arizona.

Atty. Wakeman received his high school diploma from Lake Mills High School, his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his juris doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After graduation, he formed a law practice with John Neupert in Lake Mills in 1974. In 2006, that firm, then known as Neupert & Wakeman, S.C., merged with Neuberger, Lorenz, Griggs & Sweet to form Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs & Sweet. Atty. Wakeman continued to practice with Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs & Sweet until his retirement. During his extraordinary legal career, Atty. Wakeman served as president of the Jefferson County Bar Association and the Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital Foundation Board and was a member of the American Bar Association, Wisconsin Bar Association, Lake Mills Area Chamber of Commerce and Lake Mills Area Community Foundation.

The attorneys and staff of Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs & Sweet wish to express their deepest condolences to Atty. Wakeman’s entire family. A celebration of Atty. Wakeman’s life will be held on October 5, 2014 at Milford Hill’s Hunt Club from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown and Lake Mills since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

2014 Riverfest Gets Underway

The 2014 Watertown Riverfest begins on August 7, 2014 and will last through August 10, 2014. Dating back to 1985, this annual event held at Riverside Park in Watertown, Wisconsin is a summer tradition for residents and music enthusiasts from near and far.

This year’s musical acts include Slaughter, The Toys, the Britins, Here Come the Mummies and Hotel California. In addition, other events include fireworks, the taste of Watertown, 5K run/walk, classic car show, carnival rides, craft fair, raft race, tennis tournament and $10,000 raffle. The attorneys and staff of Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet regularly participate in and volunteer at Riverfest, including annually staffing the Riverfest memorabilia stand on Saturday evening.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

National Mock Trial Championship Complete

The National Mock Trial Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, a three-day event that culminated in a final championship round on May 10, 2014, concluded with Rhinelander High School, the state champion from Wisconsin, finishing in eighth place. Washington’s state’s Seattle Preparatory School defeated South Carolina’s North Myrtle Beach High School in the championship finals in the Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing room.

Nearly 500 students competed in the event from 43 states plus Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and South Korea. It was the first time Wisconsin hosted the National High School Mock Trial Championship since 1992.

Atty. Tiffany L. Highstrom worked tirelessly prior to and during the event to recruit volunteers, organize proceedings, and make the event a success. In addition, Atty. Highstrom annually organizes the regional high school mock trial competition in Juneau, with is held at the Dodge County Justice Facility.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Adopts New Trust Code

Wisconsin trust law will take on a dramatically new look when 2013 Wisconsin Act 92 takes effect on July 1, 2014. This act adopted the Uniform Trust Code, with minor modifications, as the law of the land in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s adoption now raises to 27 the number of jurisdictions that have enacted the model statute since 2000 (26 states and the District of Columbia).

More notable aspects of the new law include the following:

– The ability to use nonjudicial settlement agreements to resolve trust disputes is expanded.

– Wisconsin testamentary trusts will no longer be subject to continuing court supervision unless it is ordered in response to a petition requesting such supervision.

– Pet trusts are specifically permitted.

– The Wisconsin Act includes a statute regarding “decanting” of trusts, which will provide significant flexibility in trust planning.

– “Directed parties” and “trust protectors” are specifically permitted and offer opportunities and protections to the settlor of a trust.

Overall, many of the provisions of the new Wisconsin Trust Code allow flexibility in planning which will benefit clients who wish to have a trust manage their assets. Further, it allows greater flexibility in addressing existing trusts that might no longer be accomplishing the trust’s purpose. If you have any questions about creating, managing or modifying a trust, our experienced attorneys are here to assist you.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Enacts Another New Landlord/Tenant Law

2013 Wisconsin Act 76, which makes several changes to Landlord & Tenant Law in Wisconsin, was signed on December 12, 2013 by Governor Scott Walker. The law generally becomes effective as of March 1, 2014. This new law, which makes sweeping changes, was initially created to fix many of the unintended consequences from the Landlord’s Omnibus law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 143, that was rushed through the legislative process in only a month’s time.

The purpose of several of the provisions of Act 76 are to speed up the eviction process. Sec. 799.206 and sec. 799.20(4), Wis. Stats, have been amended to require that all contested hearings in small claims actions (evictions, garnishments, replevins etc.) must be scheduled within 30 days of the return date/initial appearance.

Further, personal property of evicted tenants can now be treated the same as the abandoned property of tenants who left the premises voluntarily. That is, landlords may presume that a tenant has abandoned personal property – and dispose of it immediately – even if the tenant is evicted, so long as the landlord has properly notified the tenant that the landlord does not intend to store the property.

The Act also prohibits enactment of local ordinances, or invalidates existing ones, that require landlords to communicate to the tenant or to the municipality information that is not required to be communicated by state or federal law.

Act 76 contains numerous other revisions to Landlord & Tenant Law in Wisconsin. Given that Landlord & Tenant Law is an extremely complicated area of law and violations by landlords generally are considered “unfair trade practices” and subject to double damages and recovery of reasonable attorney fees under Wisconsin law, it is vital that landlords and tenants discuss how the new law impacts them with a knowledgeable attorney.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.

Attorneys Prepare for 2014 Mock Trial Season

Winter in Wisconsin typically means one thing to its residents: snow – and lots of it. But to high school mock trial teams, it means that it’s time to begin developing arguments and pouring over a true-to-life court case in an effort to prepare for the regional high school mock trial competition, which is just a few, cold months away. This year, the regional competitions will be held Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 11 locations around the state: Eau Claire, Green Bay, Wisconsin Rapids, Appleton, La Crosse, Madison, Janesville, Milwaukee, Juneau, Waukesha and Racine. Of added excitement this year is that Wisconsin will host the mock trial national championship, which will be held in Madison from May 8, 2014 to May 10, 2014.

Attorney Tiffany L. Highstrom annually organizes the regional competition in Juneau, with is held at the Dodge County Justice Facility. Attorneys Longfield, Schrier, and Sweet regularly volunteer with other judges and attorneys from the area to serve as presiding and scoring judges for the regional competition.

Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.