Clients are still asking me about estate taxes. Temporarily, the Federal estate taxes are only applied to estates over $11.58 million, per individual. Wisconsin has no estate tax or inheritance tax. Thus, for now most of my clients do not have to worry about estate taxes. The things to worry about is just having a viable plan in place for your loved ones be it human ones or furry one. But this is another reason to check in with your attorney every 3 years or so to see what changes are happening with the estate tax.
I have always offered clients the service of placing their will in the courthouse vault of the county where they reside. The cost to keep your will in the courthouse vault is $10.00 forever and ever. If of course you have a new will, it will be another $10.00 to put the new one in and we pull out the old one and shred it. So many attorneys don't know that this option exists or don't tell their clients. Two weeks ago I was at a Milwaukee County probate meeting and the question of lost wills came up. I replied what lost wills, my clients have theirs in the vault. All the commissioners and probate court personal were busy nodding and smiling. Of course the next week I took on a probate case where we couldn't fine the original will. The deceased client did have a copy. His attorney says he doesn't have the original. So we had start a special administration in probate court to hire a locksmith to get into his bank box. Of course there was no will there. So now we are starting a formal probate to prove up the copy of the will. The expenses for this are adding up quickly. Probably an extra $1,500. Make sure your wills are safe and accessible to your loved one. Not only will it save time and aggravation it will save money.
This week an old client I hadn't seen or heard from in 9 years called and sheepishly told me he went to see another attorney some years ago and begged me to allow him to return to me for his estate planning. He didn't have to beg, of course I am pleased to see him and told him that repeatedly. He feels he was conned into seeing this other attorney by a financial planner who was after his business. The planner offered a free review of his financials and then insisted on him getting new estate documents with the planner's attorney referral.
Please don't ever allow yourself to feel pressured by any of your advisors. You have the right and the power to ask questions, take your time to consider matters, do your homework and really investigate who you are working with. Ask the advisor if there is a relationship and what the relationship is with any of the referrals made.
As to his "new" documents they aren't bad, but they aren't good either. They contain a lot of boiler plate that is not applicable to him or his situation. The "new" attorney did get him to execute a financial power of attorney which I was never able to get him to create, (good for them) but they also created a revocable trust that was totally unnecessary and serves no legitimate purpose in his plan. I am going to fix things up for him and hopefully the next time he feels pressure to do something, even from me, he asks questions and gets answers.
It is funny how I used to yell at my dad that he had to become more technologically advanced in our practice. So here I am creating a new web site, but this time it is a website with a blog. Now I have a platform to write about all the fun things I get to do as an attorney. So look for more posts and feel free to ask me to write about various topics that are of interest to you.