Category Archives: Estate Planning

Why everyone needs an estate plan.

Some people think they don’t need an estate plan because they do not have millions in their estate.  This is far from the truth.  There are many other reasons to make a plan.  If you have minor children, you will want to name the person or persons who will serve as their guardian(s) if something happens to you.  Does your child have special needs?  You can plan so that they can inherit without losing government health insurance and other benefits.  Are you part of a blended family?  Without the proper estate planning, you may be surprised how Wisconsin state law divides your assets.  Do you own a small business?  You can avoid having to probate your business assets with the proper tools. 

Estate planning is also more than creating a trust or a will. 

A comprehensive estate plan includes power of attorney documents that set forth your wishes for your medical care and financial interests if you become incapacitated and names an agent who will ensure your wishes are followed.  These documents are some of the most important parts of your estate plan.  In Wisconsin, no person – not even your spouse – has the legal right to be involved in your medical decisions or even know about your medical needs if you are incapacitated.  You can give someone those rights by naming as your agent in your health care power of attorney. 

It is the same for your adult children.  Once your child turns 18, you need to be named as their agent in order to be involved in their care.  Similarly, no person has the legal right to assist with your financial matters. The documents you need to include in your estate plan will depend on your particular goals and assets.  Along with minimizing taxes and fees, effective estate planning can provide guidance, peace of mind, and lessen burdens for your loved ones.

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Estate Planning @Rebecca Mason Law

Tax Season is a great time to create an Estate Plan Blog

Tax season And estate planning?

We are about half-way through this years Tax season. Did you know the recent changes to the tax laws may impact your estate plan? These changes may have not been anticipated when you created or last reviewed your plan. 

A well-crafted estate plan can help minimize estate taxes. And strategically handle your assets when you pass.  But these documents can become outdated. Especially when there are significant changes to the law, to your assets, or to your family.

Even if you are not affected by the changes to the tax laws during this years tax season. While you are gathering your financial paperwork from the last year to give to your accountant. You can use many of those same documents to make a list of the current state of your assets – such as bank accounts, investments, life insurance, real estate, etc. 

The list of your assets will inform and direct your discussion with your attorney, allowing you to compare this information to what you had when you executed your last estate plan.  If you have never executed an estate plan, you can use the information to begin the process of creating your first estate plan, during this years tax season. 

10 Questions to Ask Your Loved Ones

We know the importance of planning for major events in our lives and sharing those plans with our family members and loved ones.

When dealing with finances, sometimes we hesitate. Discussing financial issues with family members often waits until a crisis occurs. Unfortunatley, it may be too late.

Money can be a sensitive subject with family members, it’s often at the center of many decisions in later life. Decisions such as housing, health, and long-term care. For older adults, talking with their children about future financial arrangements is critical, even if the children are reluctant to do so.

Now is the time to talk with your family members. Help them learn what information is needed. Provide information they can use to assist you through any challenging times as you age.

Here are 10 Questions to ask your loved ones or questions you can answer to help you start talking with family members:

Questions:

1. Do you have a will? Where is it? Do family members have access?

2. Do you have an advanced directive, such as a living will? Or health care durable power of attorney? Where is it?

3. Who has your power of attorney? Is it the executor of your estate? How can he/she be contacted?

4. Have you selected a funeral home? Planned or paid for a burial site?

5. What is the location of essential personal papers?

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Dissolution of marriage
  • Social Security
  • Military service records

6. Where do you keep life, health, property, and long-term care insurance policies?

7. Where is your checkbook? What bank do you use?

8. Do you have a safe deposit box? Where is it, and where is the key? Do you have a list of contents? Do family members have access?

9. Have you made a list of investments (savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, etc.)?

10. What are the names and contact information of the financial advisers/institutions that have the investments?

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A Frequent Question from our Clients

A frequent question from our clients (likely because our community is located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan) is whether you can have your ashes scattered over the lake. The answer? You can! subject to some restrictions.

That said, there are many meaningful ways for your loved ones to honor you. And at the same time provide some closure. Even many we have never heard of. This article explores some of the more unconventional options.

23 Remarkable Things to Do With Ashes to Honor Your Loved One

Wind Chime Urn

Another idea not included in this article is a wind chime: https://www.mainelyurns.com/amazing-grace-memorial-wind-chi…

Question? What has your family done? Comment below to share your families ideas that others may benefit from!

The attorneys at Rebecca Mason Law specialize in Estate Planning. In-addition we ensure your rights are respected even if you can’t yourself.