Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Have Time To Protect Your Family? Must Have Estate Planning Documents

Summer is a busy time for everyone here in Wisconsin.  We've got to enjoy the weather and get all those projects done before another winter creeps up on us.  So, its natural for people to put off those less pleasant and seemingly less pressing things, like re-organizing our thimble collections, or ensuring we've got the appropriate legal protections in place for our family and estate.

But let's shift the paradigm just a bit.  Would you be willing to say "I don't have time to protect my family from a disaster."?   Neither debilitating illnesses, tragic accidents, nor death wait until a more convenient time for you and your family.  If you haven't done so - make time to get started. 

We can help you plan for unfortunate circumstances: provide protections in the event of incapacity through durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and trusts; provide protections for financial preservation in the event of a need for nursing home or in-home medical care, and provide protections for future generations through trust and asset protection planning.

Today?  Next week? Next month?  In Fall?  Winter?  When will you decide to take the initiative to put these important protections in place?  Bottom line is YOU NEED to put these documents in place.

From protecting the family from a guardianship or placement hearing, often referred to as "living probate", to protecting from the financial erosion, and delays of probate for an estate, to protecting from loss of assets due to high medical expenses in later years - there are relatively simple, easy to complete planning tools available to protect you, to protect your loved ones and to protect your estate assets.

At a minimum, documents everyone should have in place are:
1. Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children (if applicable)
2. Last Will and Testament
3. Revocable Trust
4. Power of Attorney for Finances and Property (Durable Power of Attorney)
5. Power of Attorney for Health Care (Advance Health Care Directive)

Set an appointment with your estate planning attorney and get these taken care of.  TODAY!

You'll be glad you did, and enjoy peace of mind knowing everything is in place and accounted for.

Click here for a free Estate and Family Protection Information Package.

Appleton Attorney Kevin Davidson is a general civil practice attorney with The Estate Planning Group, LLC and Davidson Law Office, LLP, serving all of northeast Wisconsin from the Heart of the Fox River Valley. Kevin provides counsel and representation on wills, trust and estate planning and asset protection strategies, as well as a wide range of legal issues.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Don't Give It Away To Just Anyone - Asset Protection Must Be Properly Planned.

"We've already titled our home to our kids, so its protected"

This is probably the most alarming thing I hear from potential clients when we discuss asset protection in the context of estate planning.  

For most folks, the "protection" they are talking about can be summed up in this oft repeated phrase: "we want to make sure our kids get the home, rather than losing it to the nursing home."

Unfortunately, the simple act of gifting directly merely shifts the risk from one potential loss to others - and can have extremely adverse consequences if the wrong circumstances should arise.

Consider that if you have gifted your home away, you no longer own it, and whoever you gifted it to does, in fact, own it.  Now, I would not suggest that your children are likely to have a change of heart and turn you out on the street because they now own your home, but their creditors could and would throw you out without a second thought.
If Jr. ends up getting sued for big bucks, guess who's home may be up for grabs for the judgment creditor?

With proper planning, we can address the risk on all sides, so you have protection in place for you and your family, rather than just blinders blocking your view of other risks.

Click the Image to the left to request your 
free Family Protection Information Package.

To speak with a representative regarding your
Wisconsin Estate Planning and Asset Protection questions

Call Toll Free 855-558-9300


Friday, January 21, 2011

What Is Probate? Will My Family Need To Go Through Probate Court?

     There is a lot of misunderstanding on just what probate is, and when an estate goes through the Probate court.  Many believe that if they have a Will, their family will not have to go through the Probate process - not true.  If you have no Will, your estate goes through Probate and if you have a Will, your estate goes through Probate ...  unless you have done specific probate avoidance planning, such as put in place a fully funded family revocable trust.

     So, let's look at what probate is: Probate is the formal process of transferring your estate assets to your creditors, and the beneficiaries as designated by law, or within provisions set forth in your will, if you had prepared one. It is court-supervised, requiring validation and accounting of all claims by creditors against your assets at your death, as well as requiring an accounting of all remaining assets, and approval of the distribution of such assets. At the beginning of a probate administration, a petition is filed with the court, usually by the personal representative named in your will. After notice is given, and a hearing is held, your will is admitted to probate and a personal representative is appointed. If you die without a will (“intestate”), your estate is subject to the same probate court administration, only the personal representative, or administrator of the estate, is appointed by the court, and the distribution is carried out strictly as the law prescribes.

     If your total estate assets at the time of death do not exceed $50,000, the beneficiaries of your estate may file for an “informal probate,” which is a simplified procedure to settle the estate without all of the formalities required in the standard probate administration.

     The probate process has some advantages. In highly contentious situations, though the costs to the estate will be relatively high, the probate court strictly applies the rules set forth in the law to resolve disputes regarding asset distribution, with oversight and final accounting approved by the court to ensure proper application of the law.

    Disadvantages of probate include its public nature; your estate plan and the value of your assets become a public record. Additionally the time to settle the estate, the formalities imposed upon the family, and the expenses to complete the process, can be significant. The average probate in Wisconsin takes approximatly 18 months to complete and consumes approximately 6% to 10% of the estate value - for example in a $100,000.00 estate, one can expect 6,000- $10,000.00 in costs that won't go to the heirs or beneficiaries.  The advantages and disadvantages of a probate proceeding should be discussed thoroughly with your estate planning lawyer.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time To Take Steps Toward Asset Protection

I've recently run into a string of situations wherein Asset Protection Planning could have saved my clients or their families significant monies and countless worries and headaches.   The most important pair of words in that sentence is "could have,"  which, of course, begs the question "if?"

The answer to that "if" is simple, yet ignored by nearly everyone, every day.  That answer is "if they had put in place an asset protection plan."  Simply put, no plan, no protection.

Simple enough?

Of course, plans vary, and levels of protection vary along with those plans, but the  bottom line is that everyone can benefit from the tools and techniques of asset protection planning.

The fundamentals underscoring the need for asset protection are counterintuitive to the American Dream - we want ot own things.  Regrettably, everything you now own becomes a potential liability and a potential target. 

A statistic related to me by a colleague recently was that it is now estimated that 1 in 3 Americans can expect to be dragged into a lawsuit.  A staggering statistic - take a look at the person to your left, now take a look at the person to your right, one of you three are likley to be involved in at least one lawsuit.

Another staggering figure was related to me at a client's kitchen table.  As we discussed the husband's pending return home from a short stay at a local nursing home, talk turned to the potential costs if he was unable to return home.  The nursing home had quoted a rate of $7,480.00/month!  It is easy to see how a modest estate may leave nothing for children, grandchildren or other loved ones with these levels of expenses for care.

Whether the particular desire or need is to protect real estate for heirs or from creditors, to protect assets for beneficiaries in the event of a need for medical care, or to protect business or family assets from unforseen creditors, or simply to avoid the erosion of esate value imposed by the probate process, steps can be taken to secure your assets, and to secure peice of mind.

First step, of course, is to contact an asset protection attorney to discuss what's at risk and what can be done to protect it. 

It's time to take that step toward securing your assets, before it's another "could have" statistic. 

* Note that this information is provided as general information only and does not constitute legal advice with regard to any particular set of circumstances. As with any legal issue, consult with an experienced attorney if you have questions regarding matters related to the topics discussed in the blog or video. Davidson Law Office and Attorney Kevin Davidson do not provide legal advice outside of an attorney/client relationship memorialized by a written and signed contract for legal services.

Davidson Law Office, LLP is an Appleton, Wisconsin law firm with a focus on business, asset protection and estate planning. Serving clients throughout Wisconsin from the heart of the Fox River Valley, with offshore asset protection services, intertnational business corporations, domestic business structures, irrevocable trusts, family living trusts, life estates, powers of attorney, and complete estate and family security planning packages.  Attorney Kevin W. Davidson is a registered overseas agent for Anguilla B.W.I.'s Corporations Ministry.  Free consultations.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Should A Revocable Trust Be Part Of Your Estate Plan?

Revocable Trusts have become the central document in basic estate planning over the past several decades, all but replacing the Will. Yet they remain a bit of a mystery to many people, and sometimes we fear the unknown.

What is a Revocable Trust? What does it do? How does it Work? and, perhaps most importantly, Should a revocable trust be part of your estate plan?

I was recently interviewed for an article in e-zine regarding these very questions. The article provides a nice primer/overview of the revocable trust. Here's and excerpt:

"What does work is the advice of someone like Kevin W. Davidson, founding member of Davidson Law Office, LLP. In a recent interview, Kevin talked about using revocable trusts as part of your estate planning strategy.

A revocable trust, also known as "living trust", "intervivos trust", and "grantor trust", is essentially a contract between the person (or persons) setting up the trust and placing assets in it, who is referred to as the "grantor", and the person (or persons) who will be responsible for managing the trust, known as the "trustee". The contract spells out what assets belong to the trust, how the assets may be managed, and, ultimately, how the assets will be distributed at the termination of the trusts' purpose, which is usually to hold and protect assets for the benefit of some beneficiaries.

Kevin added this important reminder about trying to define a revocable trust: "The term 'revocable trust' is very generic, and there are dozens of special purpose trusts that fall under the revocable trust genre. Additionally, the specific provisions and clauses that are allowable within a trust are dictated to some extent by statute, and, accordingly, some of the details of how a trust is drafted varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction."

You can read the complete article here.

Appleton Attorney Kevin Davidson is a Wisconsin wills, trusts, estate planning and asset protection lawyer with Davidson Law Office, LLP. Kevin provides personal attention and exceptional legal service to clients throughout the Greater Appleton and Fox River Valley areas and northeast Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Asset Protection May Not Be A Good D-I-Y Project

With tough times come desperate actions. Individuals and businesses will sometimes take steps in order to protect some of their assets from potential liabilities and/or creditors. Asset protection planning is nothing new, and, if done right by an experienced professional can be legal, ethical and provide the desired security.

The Courts, however, are none too pleased to see people playing shell games solely for the sake of hiding an asset. There is a whole set of Federal and State statutes which deal specifically with the concept of a "fraudulent conveyance" or fraudulent transfer of assets. In bankruptcy proceedings, for example, any transfer of assets ocurring within a specified time of the bankruptcy filing will be scrutinized and will often be voided, bringing the asset back into the pool available to the bankruptcy creditors.

The Do-It-Yourself brand of asset protection can sometimes take amusing turns. As this December 23 decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals illustrates, you can't give away your asset and have it, too! Although Jezeski v. Jezeski involves a transfer to protect assets from an ex-spouse in a divorce proceeding, the decision bears import with regard to evading creditors of any kind.

Stanley Jezeski was about to divorce his wife, Rosalie, so he "gave" a parcel of land to his brother, Thomas, under a contract that called for Thomas to "sell" the land back after the divorce was finalized. The idea was that Stanley would go through the divorce, lose whatever he had to lose, but get to keep his prized parcel of land.

Once the divorce was final, Stanley wanted his land back (can you see where this is going?), but Tom said "no can do, mon frere." As it turns out, Thomas refused to honor the contract and decided to keep the land for himself. So Stanley sued his brother Tom to enforce the contract.

Ultimately, Rosalie did not get the land, but then, neither did Stanley. The Court held that Stanley could not enforce the contract because it was a fraudulent contract in the first place, created for the sole purpose of defrauding the Family Court.

So, lucky Tom. He got the land. He might have let Stanley continue to hunt it, too, if it weren't for that d*#d lawsuit.

A case synopsis and analysis of the Jezeski v. Jezeski decision was reported in the 12/30/08 WLJ:

Attorney Kevin W. Davidson is an asset protection, insurance coverage and personal injury lawyer with Davidson Law Office, LLP, serving clients throughout the Fox River Valley communities and northeast Wisconsin.