Flottmeyer, Ryan, and Saynor (FBRS), Attorneys at Law, LLC: La Crosse Attorneys and Onalaska Attorneys Flottmeyer, Ryan, and Saynor (FBRS): La Crosse Lawyers and Onalaska Lawyers
Flottmeyer, Ryan, and Saynor (FBRS): Attorneys at Law, LLC

Estate Planning Attorneys

Well-planned estate planning cannot only offer you comfort in knowing that you have provided for your loved ones, but it also offers peace of mind in knowing that you have done everything you can to make things easier for your family, should they need to step in and take care of your affairs on your behalf, or after you have passed away.
  • Wills: Your will controls the distribution of the property in your "probate estate." Your probate estate consists of all your property that does not pass to your heirs by other means. For example, any accounts that you own with a beneficiary designation pass outside your probate estate. Also, all property titled in the name of a Trust passes to the beneficiaries outside of the probate estate. If you own real estate with another person, that property may pass outside your probate estate. In your will, you also nominate people to take action on your behalf after your death. You will nominate a "personal representative" (formerly called the executor) who gathers your assets, pays your bills, and distributes the remainder to your heirs. If you have minor children, you may want to nominate a "guardian" who will take care of them and make decisions regarding them. If your will contains a trust, a Trustee will need to be appointed.

  • Trusts: Trusts help you avoid probate as a tool in estate tax planning, and can provide for family members with special needs without jeopardizing their public benefits.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and Property: This document allows you to assign an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf, should you be temporarily unavailable to do so yourself or should you be declared incompetent. Discuss your wishes with whomever you appoint as an agent so they can make the best decisions they can on your behalf, whether they are only temporarily or on a permanent basis.

  • Power of Attorney for Healthcare: Here, you can outline your wishes for an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf should you ever be declared incompetent or are ever unwilling to make medical decisions for yourself, even if only on a temporary basis. It is important that this document be on file with your medical provider so they are able to access this document in a timely manner should the need arise. All the medical providers in the La Crosse area provide these documents for you to fill out.

    The goal of nominating an agent(s) to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated is to avoid guardianship proceedings.

Probate

Probate is the legal process whereby a deceased person's assets are gathered, bills are paid, and the remainder passed to their heirs. People who have property that does not pass by another means need to go through the probate process. Most probates can be handled informally by filing paperwork with the Register in Probate. The personal representative you have appointed in your will administers your estate according to your wishes as outlined in the will. In the probate process, the personal representative will meet with the attorney to discuss which property is in the probate estate and which is not. This will depend on how assets are titled (i.e., joint owners, POD or pay on death, beneficiary designation, etc.). Once the probate process has started, the personal representative will be appointed to handle all financial matters on behalf the of your estate. This includes paying bills, liquidating assets, and paying applicable taxes out of the estate property. Both the personal representative and your heirs will receive an inventory of your estate, which includes the assets and liabilities of the estate, and the final account which is a record of the inventoried property, property received after the estate was opened, the bills paid by the estate (including administration expenses), and the amounts available for distribution.

If you are unsure of the legal area in which your situation applies, please contact these La Crosse lawyers at cgilkes@fbrs.net or by calling our office at 608.784.3567.

Flottmeyer, Ryan, and Sayner Attorneys at Law, LLC | 908 State St., La Crosse, WI 54601 | Phone: 608.784.3567 | Fax: 608.782.8285 | Email: cgilkes@fbrs.net
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