Recently, the Wisconsin Supreme court decided that third parties (in this case step-children) could sue to invalidate a second marriage after the biological parent and step-parent were deceased and thereby, if successful, alter the estate plan set up by the deceased. This decision, although based on very unique and specific facts, reminded me that even the best thought out and executed estate plans can go awry. The easy remedy to this is to make sure to consult with legal counsel when any major changes in one's life occur including a remarriage. It is also important to disclose any possibility for potential dissension within the family to your legal counsel when creating your estate plan. I guess the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, even applies to one's estate plan.
One of my favorite things to do in an estate plan is to create pet trusts. Being an animal lover myself, I understand the importance of a pet in a household and the bond shared between human and animal. It is a misnomer that pet trusts are just for the rich or for the eccentric. Pet trusts are for those individuals who for one reason or another need to protect their animals. Most often, the clients who request pet trusts are single and with no children, but that is not always the case. Recently I created a very complicated pet trust for quite a number of animals residing with a rather young couple who had a strong desire to make sure that the animals would be properly cared for if something should happen to one or both of them. Each pet trust I have created is unique and different just as all animals are unique and different. Cats don't like changes very much and one of the pet trusts which I created, that is currently operational, allowed for a caregiver to move into the home to take care of the cats. When the last cat dies, (which we hope will be many years off) the caregiver may purchase the residence for a nominal amount in exchange for the caregiver's services. But for now, the caregiver is living in the home rent free and the trust is paying for the vet bills and expenses of the house and cats. The cats are doing well - happy and health in their own home and the caregiver is providing them with all the love and care they need.
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.