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Milwaukee wills and estates attorneyAn estate may be contested when an interested party (such as one of the beneficiaries) objects to using the will to distribute an estate, in whole or in part. Such objections can lead to significant delays in distributing the property to heirs, so it is important that parties to such contests be represented by qualified legal counsel who can move the process along in a timely fashion.

Because the testator (the person who made the will) is dead during the probate process, proving what he or she intended at the time the will was signed can be difficult, although not impossible.

Common Challenges Made in Probate Court

Estate administration is complex, because no two wills and no two estates are alike. There are, however, common issues that are raised in probate court related to contesting a will. These include:

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Milwaukee, WI estate planning will attorneyMost people understand that it is important to have a will, but many people do not understand that what you include in your will is what makes it so important.

Your will is a legal document used to express your final wishes with regards to the handling of your personal property and other assets. It is a final way, upon your passing, to show your loved ones that you care.

Knowing what you can and should include in your will can help you feel more confident and secure. Your will should address the following issues:

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Milwaukee estate planning lawyer power of attorneyNo matter your age, it is important to plan for how your affairs should be handled if you are unable to take care of them yourself. One way of doing so is to create a power of attorney for finances, which will name a person who is authorized to make financial decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated.

Establishing a Power of Attorney

Power of attorney for finances can be established by filling out and signing a form provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or a document can be prepared by an attorney. The form or document will allow you to name an agent who can make decisions about your finances and the property you own. The power of attorney should include:

  • The name and contact information of your agent, as well as any successor agents who you wish to name if your agent is not available or willing to act on your behalf.
  • Your permission to give your agent general authority in any or all of the following areas:
    • Real property - Buying, selling, leasing, or managing real estate, including making mortgage payments and paying property taxes.
    • Tangible personal property - Buying, selling, or managing your physical belongings.
    • Digital property - Accessing and managing your electronic accounts and digital files.
    • Stocks and bonds - Buying, selling, or exchanging investments.
    • Commodities and options - Buying, selling, or exchanging futures contracts.
    • Banks and other financial institutions - Making deposits or withdrawals from bank accounts.
    • Operation of entity or business - Managing your business interests and performing any ownership duties that you would typically handle.
    • Insurance and annuities - Paying insurance premiums, modifying insurance plans, and applying for benefits on your behalf.
    • Estates, trusts, and other beneficial interests - Managing any interests for which you are the beneficiary.
    • Claims and litigation - Filing civil lawsuits or claims on your behalf or representing your interests in court cases.
    • Personal and family maintenance - Making child support or spousal maintenance payments for you and meeting the financial needs of the family members you support.
    • Benefits from governmental programs or civil or military service - Managing your enrollment in benefits programs such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
    • Retirement plans - Managing 401(k) or IRA accounts, including making contributions or withdrawals.
    • Taxes - Filing your tax returns, paying taxes owed, and collecting refunds.

You may also include special instructions regarding what your agent is or is not authorized to do. The power of attorney will become effective immediately after it is signed, unless you provide a date or describe certain circumstances for when it should go into effect. Unless you state otherwise, your power of attorney will be “durable,” meaning that it will remain in effect if you become incapacitated.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_house.jpgBy Russell J. Karnes

The time to act for Wisconsin homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments is now! This is because the deadline to apply for the federal government’s long-running Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) expires at the end of this month, on December 30, 2016.

Attorney Russell J. Karnes at GRGB says that homeowners faced with this concern need to act before December 30, 2016, if they want to take advantage of this federal assistance program, and should consult with legal counsel about their options or if they have questions on how to proceed.  Russ is experienced in mortgage loan, lending, foreclosures and consumer law, and points out a recent article that provides a very good overview and how-to on the subject.

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National Estate Planning Awareness Week, Milwaukee estate planning lawyersIn 2008, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming the third week in October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  The resolution noted that “Many Americans are unaware that lack of estate planning and financial illiteracy may cause their assets to be disposed of to unintended parties by default through the complex process of probate.”  It is estimated that more than 50% of the adult population, roughly 150 million Americans, do not have an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves, and their families’ assets.

Who Benefits From Estate Planning?

The purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain the financial security of individuals through their lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets at death, while taking into consideration the unique circumstances of their families.  All too often, we hear:

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