Estate Planning

A well-planned estate offers you comfort in knowing you have provided for your loved ones.  It also offers peace of mind knowing 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.


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 you own with a beneficiary designation pass outside your probate estate.  Also, any property titled in the name of a Trust passes to the beneficiaries outside the probate estate.  If you own real estate with another person, that property may pass outside your probate estate.  In your Will, you will nominate someone you trust to take action on your behalf after your death.  This person is called a “personal representative” (formerly called executor).  Your personal representative will gather your assets, pay your bills, and distribute the remainder to whomever you have listed in your Will.  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

Pete Sayner, Attorney for Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts in La Crosse, WI
Attorney Pete Sayner, specializing in Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate and Power of Attorney


A trust may help you avoid probate and is used as a tool in estate tax planning.  It can also 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 unable to do so yourself or should you be declared incompetent.  Discuss your wishes with whomever you appoint as an agent so they can make decisions on your behalf, whether they are only temporary or on a permanent basis.  The goal in preparing this document is to hopefully avoid a guardianship and/or protective placement should the need arise.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare:  

This document outlines your wishes for an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf should you ever be declared incompetent or unable to make medical decisions for yourself, even if only on a temporary basis.  This document should be on file with your medical provider as soon as possible so they have an understanding of what your wishes are for your medical care.  All the medical providers in the La Crosse and surrounding areas should have these documents available for you to complete.  The goal in preparing this document is to hopefully avoid a guardianship and/or protective placement should the need arise.  

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.