It's not something that we like to think about very often, but it will eventually and inevitably come up: how do I go about creating a will and planning my estate? It's not commonly discussed that if the proper documents aren't in order, the state will make all decisions regarding your finances and legacy after you pass.
By having a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney by your side, you can rest easy knowing that your wishes will be fulfilled and that you will have full control over all decision making regarding your belongings, child guardianship, beneficiaries and more. At Southworth and Stamman, LLC, we can help you take control of your estate planning matters by establishing strong documents that stand up to scrutiny.
Allow our Wisconsin Dells estate planning lawyers to help you safeguard your finances, ensure you have a say in future medical decisions and enhance your life's legacy.
Who should have a will?
Everybody. The purpose of a will is to ensure that your loved ones are cared for after you are gone. Your will outlines each asset and property you have and specifies who will receive what -- money, property, possessions, etc. -- and in what amount. Without a valid will, the state will take possession of your estate and divide it among close relatives as it sees fit.
Although it's a good idea for everybody to start planning their estate, it's especially important for a few types of people:
It may sound like a cop-out to say that everybody needs a will, but it's true. Even if you don't have a large estate, have never contributed to a 401(k), or have little to no money in your savings account, you should still consider creating a will in the event of your unexpected death. If, for example, you are killed in an accident (or even intentionally) by another person, there is a good chance that the ensuing court case could award your estate a lot of money, which will be divided to your family by the state, unless you have a will that says otherwise.
Power of attorney and living wills in Wisconsin
A living will is, "a document instructing physicians, relatives, or others to refrain from the use of extraordinary measures, such as life-support equipment, to prolong one's life in the event of a terminal illness."
It's basically a way of you communicating to healthcare professionals how you wish to be treated in the event that you become unable to properly or lucidly do so, such as while in a coma or after sustaining significant brain damage.
A healthcare power of attorney, on the other hand, is when you designate a person you trust to make medical decisions for you, in the event that you are unable to do so. The person that holds power of attorney will make all healthcare decisions including matters involving life support.
What is a holographic will?
A holographic will, or handwritten will, is a type of will that is handwritten and signed by the testator (legal term meaning the person who creates a will). Holographic wills are differentiated from normal wills because they don't require a legal professional to oversee the will's creation.
They do, however, require:
Because of the lack of witnesses and legal oversight that normal wills require, holographic wills are controversial and only recognized by about half the states in the US: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
No, holographic wills are not recognized if they are created in the state of Wisconsin. However, Wisconsin DOES recognize them if they are crafted in other states because of a "foreign will" statute. This means if a holographic will is crafted (and valid) in another jurisdiction that recognizes holographic wills, so too must Wisconsin recognize its validity.
Estate planning is multi-faceted and encompasses a lot of heavy subjects. But in the end, it's all about preserving what you've dedicated your life for and ensuring that, in the event of your passing, those you love most are taken care of as part of your legacy. If you're ready to start taking the first steps to creating a will or designating power of attorney, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. We welcome calls and visits to our office, at no cost to you, allowing you to make informed decisions about your future stress-free. Contact us today online or by telephone at 608-254-9589 to prepare for your future.
We are committed to serving your needs, preserving your wealth and protecting your legacy.
Southworth & Stamman, LLC.