Articles Posted in Estate Planning

Earlier in 2022, the stock market entered what is referred to as a bear market, which happens when the market drops more than 20% lower than a recent high. Financial experts have cited various reasons why the market has declined including, but not limited to, the war between Russia and Ukraine, energy shortages, and inflation. Each of these elements has encouraged investors to avoid losses. The market’s volatility will unfortunately remain for some time, which might make you wonder how this type of market could impact our estate planning. 

Bear and Bull Markets

Bear markets are often followed by bull markets, in which losses are recovered. The most substantial growth in the stock market often occurs in what follows a bear market. As a result, people who want to make the most of estate planning should realize that bear markets are an ideal time to make the most of the decline in investment values to make the most of gifts that will be appreciated in the future and to take advantage of existing income tax benefits.

People interested in estate planning are increasingly placing digital asset clauses in their estate planning documents. This unfortunately adds another layer of complexity to estate planning.

As focus in digital assets becomes more popular, the need for adequate estate planning also increases. People want to make sure that their financial planning prospers besides that person’s daily use of digital technology.

A large number of people interested in estate planning have even placed clauses addressing bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies into the estate plans of clients. Digital wallets go in combination with digital assets because passwords play a critical role in making sure that your loved ones are able to access your assets after you pass away or become incapacitated. Digital assets including social media, blogs, and email accounts are also playing an increasingly more prevalent role in estate plans.

In contrast to what many people think, the best estate planning considers all 

aspects of your life instead of only the end. The estate planning process requires thinking about what is important to you as well as your expectations for loved ones.

Prenuptial agreements, which a person enters into before marriage, guard those you love as well as create a groundwork for transparency and trust. While some people think prenuptial agreements “kill” the romance in a relationship, these agreements often actually act to strengthen. This article reviews some of the most common advantages for estates that people realize by creating prenuptial agreements.

Imagine you’ve finally met with your attorney to establish an estate plan and are now considering whether to establish a trust. Or a situation where you already have an estate plan that includes a revocable trust. In today’s world of estate planning, revocable trusts have proven to be a common but effective tool for achieving a person’s estate planning goals. This article reviews some of the important details that you should consider about the reality of revocable trusts.

# 1 – Revocable Trusts Are the Same as Revocable Living Trusts

A person can create a revocable trust during their life and maintain the power to revise the trust at any time. Revocable trusts are referred to by various names including a living trust, a revocable living trust, and an inter vivos trust. The terms of a trust are substantially more important than what a trust is called. The critical aspect that distinguishes revocable trusts from other kinds of trusts is the authority to either amend or revoke the terms of the trust. 

The unfortunate truth is that everyone’s parents will ultimately pass away even though the average life expectancy is increasing. While some of our parents pass away while we are children, other people lose their parents when they are adults.  Even though this is a grim reality, it is best to prepare for this eventuality. Because you can lose a parent at any time, you should do everything possible to prepare for this occurrence. It’s important to know just why but also how and what to talk about with your parents when it comes to estate planning.

Why These Conversations Are Important

Without documenting plans for your parent’s approach to what will happen after they pass away, you can end up in a difficult situation. Without access to your parent’s funds, you might be left to pay for the various costs they leave behind when they pass away. Unfortunately, this means that some caregivers end up spending their own money in these situations. Besides the additional costs, your parent’s end-of-life plans are also less likely to be achieved. Having conversations about these matters before your parent passes away or becomes incapacitated makes sure you’re able to tackle these issues.

In the recent case of Eskra v. Grace, a person filed a petition attempting to be named as personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate. The trial court denied her petition based on a premarital agreement waiving her interest in her deceased husband’s separate property. The court named the man’s parents as the estate’s co-administrators.

The Court’s Holding

The court held that the man was entitled to introduce evidence in support of her claim that she and her deceased husband mistakenly believed the premarital agreement only applied in case of divorce instead of after the man’s death. On remand, the trial court determined that the error was a unilateral mistake on the wife’s part and that the wife had no entitlement to rescission. The court expressly found that insufficient evidence existed that the husband either encouraged or fostered the wife’s incorrect impression. 

An appellate court recently decided the In re the Purported Will of Moore case, which involved an appeal from an order that granted summary judgment and denied relief for a judgment involving a caveat to the will of a deceased person. 

The Facts Behind the Case

A man created a will at the end of 2018 appointing his sister as executor. The will passed on both the man’s real and personal property to his sister after the man’s sister passed away. The man ultimately passed away in 2019. The deceased man’s estate began probate in 2019 in the superior court.  The man’s daughter filed a caveat to the will in the summer of 2019 claiming that she is the deceased man’s only biological child and that the deceased man’s will is not valid because it lacked appropriate witnesses and was written as the result of undue influence

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently saw the case of Austin v. Roesler and Campbell, which provides some valuable reminders about what to do (and not do) while estate planning. 

The Facts Behind the Case

The case involved a woman who executed her will in 1977, which directed that following the woman’s death the entirety of her property is given to her husband. The will also contains provisions that direct the distribution of assets in case the woman’s husband predeceased her. In this situation, the woman stated that all of her property be transferred to her children. In case any of the woman’s children pass away before her, the woman’s will states that the assets should go to the surviving heirs. 

While estate planning, it’s a good idea to make sure that various parties involved with your estate including personal representatives, agents appointed through a durable power of attorney, and trust receive the information they need to both access as well as manage your assets in case you end up incapacitated or pass away. 

While most assets can be easily identified, one notable exception are digital assets, which include not just social media accounts and financial accounts but also cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and non fungible tokens. This article reviews some critical issues to consider in regards to estate planning and digital assets.

# 1 – Email and Social Media Accounts

A survey recently reported that over 80% of people who work in estate and financial planning utilize digital trends to support estate planning. Family structures are increasingly complex with currently 34% of respondents reporting that the appointment of beneficiaries was a primary cause of fighting among a family. Market volatility has been identified as the leading threat to estate planning and has risen substantially in danger over the last few years. 

The study also determined the increase in the use of digital content and tools that conform with the growing interest in digital assets. Many people are interested in their financial planning advancing as the utilization of technology and digital integration improves.

Other details in the study state that 52% of people leverage estate planning software, while 48% of individuals use online estate planning platforms. This activity demonstrates that a large part of people who participate in estate planning are utilizing digital resources to efficiently support client needs.

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