Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys in Racine, WI
Helping Secure You & Your Family A Better Future
Have peace of mind about you or your family’s future when you work with trusted attorneys at Knuteson, Hinkston & Rosenberg, S.C. to guide you in estate and will planning, as well as the probate process. If you need to prepare your will, powers of attorney, a revocable or irrevocable trust, guardianship and conservatorship orders, or other estate planning services, we can handle it for you. Our team of attorneys has the expertise and knowledge to help you sift through your assets, distribute property accordingly, and much more. We will make sure that any documents are executed correctly and fit your personal circumstances.
What is Estate Planning?
What is Durable Power Of Attorney?
The durable power of attorney is also sometimes called a “power of attorney for finances” or “financial power of attorney.” This document designates a trusted person to act as your agent and attorney, and gives that person many general powers. These powers may include, but are not limited to:
- The ability to move money and funds around throughout your financial accounts.
- The authorization to sign contracts or other legal documents on your behalf.
- The power to invest and manage your other hard assets.
The durable power of attorney is usually used for convenience by people who are either mentally or physically incapable of handling their personal matters alone. Since all estate planning documents must be signed while the person executing them is in sound mind, it is important to plan ahead for unforeseen circumstances, such as being simply unavailable or incapacitated by illness.
A durable power of attorney can help prevent the necessity for the local government to appoint a guardian over a vulnerable person. A durable power of attorney allows a trusted person to do everything a formal guardian would be able to do, but in a more private, comfortable, and less expensive manner. Due to the large amount of power over assets and finances that is included in the power of your designated attorney, it is important to choose an individual that you trust in confidence.
Why is a Power of Attorney Beneficial in Healthcare?
What is a Will?
What is a Living Will?
It is impossible to predict the future, or even new medical developments that might become available. Therefore, drafting a living will should be done only after careful thought and consideration. Oftentimes, your estate planning attorney will draft a power of attorney for healthcare to coincide with the living will, so that both documents can cover any future healthcare decisions. You should designate a trusted person to act as your healthcare power of attorney for making any decisions that are unrelated to life-support during a vegetative state.
Secure protection for your future with trusted attorneys.
What is Probate Administration?
What if you do not have a will?
For example, if a person dies with no spouse or children, and also does not have a will prepared, his parents would receive all of his estate’s assets. If the person did not have parents either in the same situation, then his assets would be distributed to his living siblings. Once the assets have all been retitled and given to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs, the personal representative must file a final account of the estate’s assets to close the probate action. The final account lists the value of the assets and gives the court a record of how they were distributed.
But sometimes a decedent’s assets are essentially “frozen” after his or death because the assets remain titled in the decedent’s name. For example, a deceased person’s bank account, safety deposit box, or home residence might be titled solely in that person’s name. The bank often won’t allow anyone to access the deceased person’s funds or safety deposit box without official authorization from the probate court. In the case of a piece of real estate, the court must grant authorization to the personal representative to sign a new deed transferring the real estate to living heirs. The authorization itself comes in the form of domiciliary letters, which are official documents stamped by the probate court to empower the personal representative. The domiciliary letters allow the personal representative to access, move, and distribute all of the deceased person’s assets freely.
How long does the probate process take?
Common third party creditor claims against the estate include unpaid hospital, ambulance, funeral, and credit card bills. The personal representative must pay these claims, if they are indeed valid, using the estate’s assets. After three-and-a-half months, the creditor period will close and no further claims may be brought.
There are many other technical and specific probate documents that must be filed by the personal representative to move the process along and eventually close the estate. If you are confused about the formal procedures, contact a probate attorney to make sure all forms are completed accurately and correctly.
Will Contests & Other Disputes
If a will is successfully invalidated by the contesting party, then the estate will revert to being distributed under the default Wisconsin intestacy rules to biological heirs. It is unwise to enter any probate litigation without an attorney, so retain legal counsel as soon as possible if you find yourself defending or challenging an estate’s administration.
Simply gifting items away during one’s life will also eliminate those particular assets from a later probate estate, however, there may be important tax implications to consider. If you would like to explore alternatives to probate, contact an estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate transitions smoothly and without the headache of probate court.
Transfer by Affidavit for Smaller Estates
However, it is still important to consult an attorney when preparing a transfer by affidavit to ensure it is done legally and will be successfully accepted by banks and other institutions holding the decedent’s assets. Many out-of-state financial institutions are skeptical or have not heard of Wisconsin’s transfer by affidavit process before, and may ask for domiciliary letters and a probate instead.