A Will Clarifies Your Wishes Regarding Distribution Of Assets

Many Wisconsin residents do an admirable job of building savings over the course of their life, but, like the rest of America, fail to put plans in place to protect those assets and make sure they are passed to loved ones. As many as six in ten adults in the U.S. do not have a will or other basic estate planning documents in place.

While it's not pleasant to think about death, it's also unpleasant to imagine loved ones wrestling with decisions about how to distribute your assets or, worse, your wishes not being followed because you failed to complete a will.

The estate planning attorneys at Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C., can draft a will or update an existing will so you can be assured that your assets will be treated according to your wishes. We assist clients throughout Wisconsin from offices in Green Bay and Appleton.

What It Means To Die Intestate

If you die without a will, it is known as "dying intestate." Your assets are distributed according to Wisconsin's intestate succession laws. What does that mean? The assets are divided between a surviving spouse and any children in predetermined ratios, even if you would have done things differently. If there is no surviving spouse or kids, assets go to surviving parents or siblings.

The bottom line: Without a will and other estate planning documents like a trust, you lose control over how your assets are treated. You worked hard to accumulate what you have; it only makes sense to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Putting a comprehensive estate plan in place is not just for people with substantial assets. If you have a home or any assets, it is important to have a will. And because life changes grandchildren come along, divorce happens, etc. it is wise to have a lawyer review an existing will to make sure it still meets your objectives.

Why Trusts Make Sense

Trusts also make sense for many people. If you have significant real estate assets, or if you have specific wishes about when you want your assets to be distributed among your heirs after you die, a trust may be the right instrument to accomplish those objectives. There are many different types of trusts for the varied objectives that people have, including:

  • Bypassing the probate process
  • Distributing assets to children at certain stages of their lives
  • Providing care for a pet
  • Providing assets to charities over time
  • Providing financial support to a special needs child while not disqualifying them from receiving government benefits

Trusts are complex tools that should be created with the assistance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to make sure they achieve your objectives.

A Personal Approach

The personal approach that is a component of all our legal services is important to our estate planning clients. We take the time to understand your family structure and your objectives to create a will that truly reflects your life and your wishes.

We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about estate planning and recommend effective next steps. Call 920-831-0300 or email us to schedule a consultation.