Estate Planning
Planning your estate can be a challenging task.  By taking the time to thoughtfully create an estate plan, you can identify those persons who will receive your property when you are gone.  Your plan may provide for your loved ones and other individuals or charitable organizations.  An estate plan, whether accomplished through a simple will or the use of more sophisticated trusts, serves as an essential guide for your representatives regarding the transfer of your property.

We serve six Southern Wisconsin counties including Adams, Columbia, Dane, Juneau, Richland and Sauk counties. Please call any LaRowe Gerlach Taggart LLP office to set up a FREE initial consultation.

Probate (Estate administration)
When a loved one passes away, working through the legal process can seem overwhelming to you. The most immediate task is to focus on making the funeral or service preparations and to honor your loved one’s life. When you are ready, LaRowe Gerlach Taggart LLP will guide you through the process with compassion and careful attention to your specific needs.

Trust administration
In Wisconsin, trustees are held to high standards regarding their fiduciary duties. Both individual and corporate trustees may need to seek legal guidance from time to time. If you have questions about the requirements and duties involved in accepting a trustee position or if you are concerned about making certain decisions, LaRowe Gerlach Taggart LLP can help guide you to ensure that you make the correct choice.

Guardianships
Guardians are created to assist individuals who a court determines are unable to take care of themselves (sometimes referred to as a “protected person” or “ward”). A guardian is appointed to make decisions for the protected person regarding general care and day-to-day needs. For example, the guardian may choose the type of support, health care, and education that the protected person will receive as well as where the person will live.

Conservatorships
Conservators are similar to guardians in that they are appointed by a court following a determination of incapacity. A conservator is appointed to make financial decisions for the protected person. The conservator typically has the power to contract, pay bills, invest assets, and perform other financial functions for the protected person. However, these powers can be limited depending upon the capacity level of the protected person. Creating a trust and naming a trustee is one way to avoid a court appointed conservator.

Services we provide
Simple Wills
Revocable Trusts
Disclaimer Wills
Irrevocable Trusts
Health Care Directives
Powers of Attorney
Charitable Trusts
Supplemental Needs Trusts
Antenuptial Agreements
Postnuptial Agreements

Estate Planning Basics & Tools

Wills
A Will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive which of your assets after your death. Recipients of the assets are called beneficiaries. A Will also names a personal representative who distributes your property, appoints a guardian to care for minor children, and determines how and when property is transferred to beneficiaries.

Trusts
A Trust is a flexible planning tool which can be used for a variety of purposes. One purpose is to transfer property without the need for a probate. Another purpose is to give discretion to provide for several family members or different generations of family members by delaying the distribution of your property. More sophisticated trusts can help reduce estate and generation skipping tax liability. Although trusts can be extremely useful, they are not necessary for everyone.

Health Care Power of Attorney
Also known as a Living Will, or a durable health care directive, this legal document is one of the most important estate planning tools. It allows an individual to name someone as his or her Agent, who will make health care decisions when a person cannot communicate his or her wishes to a health care provider. This list of instructions guides the health care agent in making important and sometimes difficult decision regarding medical care.

Financial Power of Attorney
This legal document allows a person (the principal) to name someone else as his or her Agent to handle financial matters when the principal is unable to do so. This can be a significant estate planning tool. In many cases, the authority of an Agent is limited either to specific transactions or situations where the principal is unable to act.

What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of creating legal documents which list instructions of how you want your property distributed after you pass away. Probate is the process of having someone else, your personal representative, follow the estate plan and distribute the assets.

What is probate?
Probate is the legal process by which a personal representative distributes a deceased person’s probate assets. Probate assets are those assets titled in a person’s name alone. Non-probate assets include jointly owned property, retirement and life insurance plans, and various other assets. A Will directs the transfer of probate assets while non-probate assets are transferred outside of the probate process.

The probate process in Wisconsin is relatively straightforward but by creating an estate plan, you can make the process simpler for your loved ones or choose to avoid probate altogether.

Links
Wisconsin Probate Statutes: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/prefaces/toc
Wisconsin Forward Health Medicaid Home Page: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/medicaid/
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/ 
U.S. Social Security Administration: http://www.ssa.gov/ 
Internal Revenue Service: http://www.irs.gov/