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Estate Planning Attorney Serving Green Bay, Wisconsin 

The peace of mind that comes from appropriate estate planning is priceless. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how important estate planning is until it is too late. So, take the first steps towards being prepared, and reach out to our attorney James E. Lewis. We proudly serve Green Bay, Wisconsin, and neighboring areas, including Oconto, Shawano, Kewaunee, and Sturgeon Bar. Take those steps to protect your loved ones. 

What Is Estate Planning? 

Estate planning consists of determining the distribution of assets after we pass on. In essence, estate planning is about who gets what. Nevertheless, estate planning is much more than that. It involves establishing funeral plans, burial instructions, and advanced health directives. These include: 

  • End-of-life decisions 

  • Instructions in case of temporary or permanent incapacitation

The two most common documents used in estate planning are a will and a trust. These documents help protect loved ones by ensuring they get the support needed after we pass on. 

Why Is Estate Planning Important? 

Estate planning is crucial for the following reasons: 

  • Everyone needs an estate plan regardless of age, health condition, or financial status. Making arrangements as soon as possible provides peace of mind in knowing that our loved ones have been protected. 

  • Dying intestate (without a will) is a complicated situation. In that situation, Wisconsin succession laws apply. As a result, the likeliest outcome is that all eligible beneficiaries get an equal share of the estate. This situation may lead to needless conflict among family members. 

  • Dying intestate also involves a process called probate. Probate is when the court decides who gets what. Probate is a costly and lengthy process. Meanwhile, your beneficiaries may be in a tough financial situation following our passing. An estate plan greatly reduces or eliminates the need for a draining probate process. 

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What Documents Are Included in an Estate Plan? 

The following documentation is typically included in an estate plan: 

  • A will. Drafting a will consists of writing down our last wishes and instructions for the distribution of our assets or guardianship of minor children. A will ensures you protect those who need it most. A will is a public document and must go through probate. Please note that estates valued under $50,000 do not need probate. 

  • A trust. Establishing a trust is similar to drafting a will. The difference is that a trust is a private document, so it is not subject to probate. In a trust, beneficiaries get access to property after certain conditions have been met. A common condition is receiving property after turning a certain age.  

  • A power of attorney. Choosing a power of attorney can complement a will or trust. In this document, the named person retains the legal authority to oversee the estate following a person’s passing or make end-of-life decisions. Additionally, a power of attorney gives the named individual the right to make decisions in case of temporary or permanent incapacitation.  

  • Probate. Probate is the legal process where a judge determines fair asset distribution when a person dies intestate. When there is a will, probate is the legal supervision that ensures the named beneficiaries receive their share of the estate. However, there may be contested issues. As a result, the judge must rule on the validity of these challenges. 

Please note that a smooth probate process (especially if there is a will) can take as little as six months in Wisconsin. However, a complicated probate process can take two years or more, depending on the specific situation.  

How Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help? 

An estate planning attorney can help bring peace of mind for a variety of reasons: 

  • Working with an estate planning attorney helps folks find the right solution for individual needs. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all plan. The right legal counsel helps establish the right plan for individual needs. 

  • While it may be tempting to use online will-writing tools, these wills can be easily contested in probate. Working with an estate planning attorney helps build an enforceable document that ensures loved ones are protected. 

  • A professional estate planning attorney ensures proper trust administration even if they are not the named executor. They can support the named executor every step of the way.  

  • Enlisting an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial to help navigate the waters of potentially complicated probate proceedings. 

Estate Planning Attorney Serving Green Bay, Wisconsin 

At Lewis & Van Sickle, LLC, we strive to help our clients protect their loved ones. We know how important it is to ensure the most important people in our lives are provided for after our passing. We work hard to develop the right solution for each of our clients’ needs. Reach out today to talk to a professional estate planning attorney. We are standing by to give you the support you need every step of the way.