218 North 14th Ave, P.O. Box 317, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

920.743.9117

Green Bay Probate

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The New Wisconsin Trust Code.

The new Wisconsin Trust code has gone into effect on July 1, 2014. It has updated  many of the rules and regulations for Trusts. For example:

Revocable Trusts.  Contrary to prior law, the new Code provides that a trust is revocable by the trustmaker (the person who created the trust) unless the trust instrument provides otherwise.  Not only may a trust be revoked by the Trustmaker, but also by a properly authorized agent, such as a guardian, if a Trustmaker is incapacitated.

Modification and Termination of Irrevocable Trusts.  The Code makes it easier to modify or terminate an irrevocable trust.

Decanting Trust Assets.  Subject to certain restrictions that are designed to protect the interests of beneficiaries, the trustee of an irrevocable trust (the “first trust”) may transfer trust assets to the trustee of another trust (the “second trust”), a procedure commonly referred to as “decanting.”  Trustees or beneficiaries might wish to decant the assets of an irrevocable trust to a second trust to (i) change the state law that governs the trust, (ii) change how and when beneficiaries receive distributions, or (iii) modernize an outdated trust document.

 Directing Parties/Splitting up the Duties.  The Code introduces a new concept to Wisconsin trust law by authorizing a trustmaker or a court to appoint “directing parties” who are granted powers to direct the trustee to make investment or distribution decisions.  This allows a trustmaker to divide the traditional duties of a trustee and assign them to other parties.

Trust Protectors.  The Code introduces another concept to Wisconsin trust law, (which has been around for may years in Irrevocable Trusts) by authorizing the appointment of one or more trust protectors.  A "trust protector" is a person who is granted certain powers over the trust, the trustee, or trust property.  Trust protectors are often used to modify terms of the trust for various reasons such as a change in tax laws or changes in circumstances.

Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements.  The Code permits parties interested in a trust to enter into agreements concerning any matter involving the trust without having to take court action.  Such an agreement, called a nonjudicial settlement agreement, becomes part of the terms of the trust.

Creditors' Claims.  In general, the Code preserves current law related to spendthrift provisions in a trust document and the rights of creditors to make claims against a trustmaker’s or beneficiary’s interest in a trust.  The Code also preserves current law that allows a trustee to limit the claims of a creditor of a trustmaker upon the trustmaker's death by providing or publishing notice to the creditors.  Those looking for Wisconsin to join the ranks of states with strong asset protection trust laws will not be disappointed when using Castle Trusts.  The Code makes clear, however, that a beneficiary's use of real or tangible property owned by a trust does not subject the property to the claims of the beneficiary's creditors. A Major change is that the beneficiary can be a sole Trustee and retain creditor Protection.

Certification of Trust.  A third party may rely upon a certification of trust that sets out certain required information including a statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended. The certification of trust protects the privacy of the trust instrument because it does not need to contain the private distribution provisions of the trust.

Uneconomic Trust. The WTC increases the value of what qualifies as an uneconomic trust from $50,000 to $100,000 or less as indexed for inflation. 

Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Estate Planning World has Flipped

 There is a new paradigm in estate planning.

Three major changes have profoundly affected the estate planning world.

1.  The 2012 American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) with its increase in the estate tax exemption to over $5,000,000 as the lead game changer. Estate Taxes have been eliminated for most Americans.

2.  Wisconsin last December passed the new Uniform Trust Code which took effect on July 1, 2014.

3.  The US Supreme Court Decision in Clark v. Rameker that inherited IRA's are not creditor protected.

I will give each of these items further discussion in upcoming articles.

My Recommendation:  All  trusts and estate plans prepared prior to 2012 should be reviewed

Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don’t Let Failure to Plan Tear Your Family Apart

An estate is more than just money

Even if your kids are grown-up with families of their own, you can probably remember scenes of intense sibling rivalry when they were younger. In some families, that competition continues into adulthood; for others, it recedes as children age and mature. But it can all come flooding back while trying to divide up your estate after your death, as your kids argue over who gets what.

If you die without a will, a court will decide, based on state law, who will inherit your property. In most cases, the result might be contrary to your wishes. Think of all the assets you’ve accumulated: house, car, jewelry, investments, family heirlooms and more. “It is simply not enough to say ‘let them just divide it evenly or work it out themselves,’” says Gerald A. Youngs, president of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). This is sure to create problems and expenses due to probate laws, state laws and court appointed strangers making family decisions.

“While many people worry about the federal estate tax, the truth is most of us won’t have a tax problem under the current tax laws,” says Youngs. “But the ‘family tax’ is a very real concern,” he adds. The family tax is the price paid by children, grandchildren and favorite charities when you do not express your wishes legally. The family tax is paid not only with money, but also with hard feelings.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make it easy on you and your family by taking a few simple steps to make sure your estate is in order. Whatever the size of your estate, the first step is to have your intentions put in writing, either in a basic will or a will plus the trust documents that will be needed to carry out your wishes. An estate planning professional can help you make the best decision for your situation.

Once you have a plan in place, discuss it with your family. If anyone has any questions about the details, or any quibbles, you can address them and put to rest any future squabbles. While your family shouldn’t dictate your actions, they should be informed about them.

This is also a good time to discuss dividing up personal property. I refer to it as the SPECIAL STUFF. Those items that have a story. People often arrange for the executor of their will to divide personal property their spouse doesn’t want (such as furniture and jewelry) among their children. Simply leaving it at that can cause problems. It is better to put together a list with a description of the property (Along with photo's) who you’d like to have it, what is the story  and why did you choose the person you did. You can put this list together with input from your children to alleviate any hard feelings later.

Putting together an estate plan is not as daunting as it might seem at first, and it pays big dividends in the long run. Not having an estate plan in place can cost you not only in dollars and cents, but also in family discord.

See Bob Ross' tips for passing your family values, traditions and history on to future generations.


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218 North 14th Ave, P.O. Box 317, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
| Phone: 920-743-9117 | 866-743-9117
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| Phone: 920-743-9117 | 866-743-9117

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