Have a wonderful end to 2011 and start to 2012. I'll be back with more thoughts on illness, death and taxes in the new year.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Have a wonderful end to 2011 and start to 2012. I'll be back with more thoughts on illness, death and taxes in the new year.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Up until this week I assumed that a doula was associated with the beginning of life, not the end. Then I saw a Facebook post sharing an article for the LA Times. Death Doula: A midwife for the end of life. As I read the article it did seem natural to have an advocate assist as one's life draws to an end. I see the family strife all the time. A neutral party can be very helpful. From navigating the health care system, to coordinating family visits, to making final arrangements.
However, I would urge people NOT to plan to wait on completing essential estate planning documents until they have a death doula at their side. Why? Unlike birth, not all deaths are easily forecast. If you are in your 80s or 90s or have a terminal illness, a death doula could assist in making sure you complete necessary paperwork and help with the end of life process. Sadly, there is not always time to contact a death doula. Heart attacks, stroke, car accidents, and countless other ways can end a life, any life, no matter the age, instantly.
Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu - free image
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Avoiding probate -- it's the goal of so many people. So what happens if probate is successfully avoided but the decedent had a safe deposit box? In a recent experience I had success by using a Wisconsin Transfer by Affidavit form. PR 1831 allows heirs to receive assets, without opening a probate, if the TOTAL probate assets were less than $50,000. The tricky part can be figuring out if an asset is probate or not. If there is a beneficiary form of any kind (TOD Deed, POD, TOD, Beneficiary form) that successfully transfers, then the asset is NOT part of the probate estate.
Monday, December 26, 2011
A beautiful tribute to those individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2011, The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members is a must read for anyone seeking appreciation for life or seeking to learn more about the familial impact of that tragic day in our nation's history.
Friday, December 23, 2011
As we prepare to say good-bye to 2011, I am busily adding seminars to my 2012 calendar. Ranging from 45 minutes guest spots in retirement workshops to lunch & learns to 2 hour long seminars, there is an option for everyone. Please review my web site for specific dates and times. Also, I am in the process of adding additional events -- check back for updates.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Donor advised funds allow a person to establish his or her own fund at either a public or community foundation. Each fund would have its own specific purpose or focus. Donor advised funds can be established through Community Foundations (Madison Community Foundation is an example), Financial Institutions (Vanguard Charitable is an example), and Public Charities (such as hospitals).
- what are the minimum funding requirements?
- what assets will they accept (cash, cars, homes, stocks)?
- how many generations of successor are allowed?
- what is the frequency of grants being made (annually, quarterly)?
- what services are offered (research, meetings, etc.)?
- what fee does the foundation charge?
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
- adding a person's name to your bank accounts;
- adding a person's name to the deed to your home; and
- addition a person's name to the deed to your vacation property.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
- Wrong "Date of Death" is listed -- can have a huge impact because of shifting federal exemption amounts each year;
- Wrong Social Security Number is listed;
- Simple math errors;
- Copies of wills or trusts (when required) are not included;
- Inadequate appraisals;
- Appraisals are not included;
- Failure to include history of prior gifts made by decedent;
- Using FMV of house at time of sale instead of Date of Death -- there is a good chance the value at sale is much lower than date of death.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that two charities in Pennsylvania are fighting, in court, over a bequest a women made to a meals on wheels organization. According to the story a splinter group left the original organization, and is asserting a claim on part of the bequest (approximately valued at $285,000). The matter is still pending in court.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Urns for travel? Yes, apparently the exist. The other day I was talking with some clients, and the husband told his wife "when I die, I want my remains scattered in Columbia...the country. And they have special urns for flying." My ears perked up -- they do?
Monday, December 12, 2011
Gripping would be a way to describe Chris Licht's book, What I Learned When I Almost Died: How a maniac TV producer put down his BlackBerry and started to live his life. The fact that the author was 38, the same age I am now, when his world was turned upside down by a brain hemorrhage, was chilling.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
- provide a detailed description of the method used to determine fair market value;
- appraiser should be qualified and actively appraising properties or available to do so;
- appraiser should be objective;
- appraisal should include date of transfer, date of appraisal, a description of the property, description of the appraisal process, state assumption or limiting conditions, and the rationale for methods used.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Several times in the past few weeks I have heard reference to "bucket list". The oddest one was in a holiday solicitation from a non-profit. The bucket was a wood bucket filled with plush toys -- a gift for donating $50. Apparently their marketing team was as unfamiliar with the term as I was. According to the Urban Dictionary, bucket list, is a common term for the list of things a person wants to accomplish before dying. I'm uncertain if the term pre-dates the 2007 movie of the same name. Co-starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, it follows the lives of 2 terminally ill men as they race to complete their "bucket lists". A Google search also found www.bucketlist.org, an on-line journal where people can note their to-do items, and update readers as they make progress. I guess it is kind of like Facebook for the macabre.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
- New Mexico;
- Oklahoma; and
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, December 1st6pm -8pm
Thursday, November 24, 2011
I am taking the day off from law and blogging to enjoy the holiday with my family. I am sharing a favorite photo, one I took a few years ago. As we prepare to say good-bye to Fall and hello to Winter, may be pause and give thanks.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Today I am posting a review that I wrote for the Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine in December 2008 of the book Alive and Kicking: Legal Advice for Boomers by Kenney F. Hegland and Robert B. Fleming. Enjoy.
Short, concise chapters on a wide variety of issues, Alive and Kicking is a useful book for any lawyer who works with today’s Boomers. Chapters address issues ranging from estate planning to identity theft to Social Security as well as divorce and remarriage. Written for the Boomer, as opposed to attorneys, the book offers straightforward insight into the issues faced as people age.
The primary strength of the book is its ability to serve as a quick and handy reference guide to the common issues older clients might raise in the course of representation. While it is not wise to practice outside of your given emphasis, estate planning for example, no lawyer wants to answer a client’s inquiry with “I have no idea”. Alive and Kicking can serve as a quick reference to address a client’s question while you develop a more detailed referral if needed.
As with many books related to these timely topics, the book is limited in that each State may have a different procedure – the book is not
However, those limitations come with most print media these days, and I would recommend the book to anyone whose practice involves serving the Boomer population. At just over 250 pages, it is a quick and often humorous read. One piece of new information I gained was related to the 1983 Congressional action to prohibit federally assisted housing, designated for the elderly or disabled, from discriminating against owners of cats, dogs, and fish.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
"I learned the hard way how NOT to scatter ashes....into the wind." -anonymous.
Monday, November 21, 2011
- if you have minor children;
- if you need to do tax planning;
- if you have adult children who are not good with money; and
- if you have pets.
Friday, November 18, 2011
- the national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home was $239 in 2011;
- the national average monthly rate for assisted living care was $3,477 in 2011; and
- the national average hourly rate for an in-home health aide was $21 in 2011.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Tangible personal property includes, but is not limited to: works of art, jewelry, furs, silverware, books, statuary, vases, oriental rugs, and coin or stamp collection.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
- filing a claim for life insurance;
- transferring non-probate assets (IRAs, 401ks, etc.);
- closing cell phone and other utilities; and
- closing social media accounts.
Monday, November 14, 2011
- There is a perfect match. I'd call this analysis paralysis....you search and search, but take no action;
- Someone will step up;
- A letter or email is sufficient;
- You don't need to ask the guardian before making the nomination.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
- Transfers to political organizations, as defined under Section 527(3)(1);
- Transfers to qualifying educational organizations in the form of tuition for education or training. Not included are transfers for books, supplies, room / board, or deposits into 529 college savings plans; and
- Transfers for medical treatment so long as that treatment would qualify as a deduction for income tax purposes.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
- history and beliefs;
- the basic service;
- holy days and festivals;
- life cycle events (birth, initiation, marriage, funerals); and
- home celebrations.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Husband and wife create a living revocable trust, fund it, husband dies and it becomes irrevocable on when the first spouse dies, requiring distributions to survivor.
Same scenario as listed above, however, the surviving spouse never took the annual distribution out of the trust....over 20 years. Upon the second spouse's death serious tax issues emerged. The unclaimed income created income tax issues (it was never reported), and leaving it in the trust was viewed as contributing to the principal of an irrevocable trust. Plus, probate was required to received the 20 years of distributions out of the trust that were never taken.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Is it time to update your estate planning documents? My personal recommendation is that powers of attorneys be updated every 5 to 7 years. Wills and trusts should last generations, however small amendments may be need to reflect relationship changes (marriages, births, deaths, conflicts between parties, and acquisition of new property). Don’t put off changes until it is too late.
Friday, November 4, 2011
- Michael Jackson, $170 million;
- Elvis Presley, $55 million;
- Marilyn Monroe, $27 million;
- Charles Schulz, $25 million; and
- John Lennon, $12 million.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
- postmenopausal women;
- women planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant;
- people over 50; and
- breastfeed infants.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
- banking accounts;
- retirement accounts;
- credit cards;
- on-line bills;
- social media; and
- digital media stored on the cloud.
- web domains;
- intellectual property;
- images and video;
- music; and
Friday, October 14, 2011
It is a new year, and like most people you may have a to-do list featuring your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you are an expectant or new parent or a seasoned veteran with teenagers, you may want to add “Nominate a Guardian for my Child” to your list.
What is a guardian? A guardian becomes the substitute parent for a child and makes day-to-day decisions a parent would make if the unthinkable happens to both parents. Every minor must have a guardian, and should the unthinkable happen a court will appoint someone to fill the parents’ shoes.
Why nominate a guardian? If you do not nominate a guardian, then the potential exists for various family and friends to seek guardianship over your child. The uncertainty, legal costs, and possible contentious atmosphere surrounding such an event would be less than ideal. By nominating a guardian for your child you not only ensure that your wishes will be considered by the judge, but you also allow for a more smooth transition following a tragic event in the life of your child and surviving family and friends.
Who should you nominate? Thinking of someone who will step into your shoes is almost an unbearable thought; many of my clients tear-up when discussing the issue with me. When working through this emotional area I find that it helps to have some concrete questions to answer. For example:
· Who has a close bond with your child;
· Who is in good health to raise your child;
· Who shares your family’s values in terms of religion and education;
· Who could realistically take on the financial responsibility of raising your child;
· Who lives in an area where you would want your child raised; and
· Who does your child want to live with (assuming they are old enough to talk about this issue).
How do you nominate a guardian? Many clients I have worked with believe that having a godparent is sufficient. It is not. A will is the only legal form of nominating a guardian for your minor child. A
Wisconsinwill can be completed by working with an estate planning attorney or by completing a basic will that is available from the State Law Library and other establishments. One important consideration in deciding on whether to work with an attorney is whether you would like to create a will that nominates a guardian and also places your assets into a trust fund for the benefit of your child; with no trust, a child would gain possession of the assets at age 18. Do not underestimate your assets; a house, retirement account, and life insurance can add up quickly. Wisconsin
What should you tell the guardian you’ve nominated? First, before nominating anyone in your will you should ask them if they would like to serve as a guardian. Urge them to be honest with you because you want your child to be placed in the most supportive and nurturing environment possible. Second, I advise all of my clients with minor children to leave a letter to the guardian expressing his or her wishes for the child’s upbringing. For example, how much should be spent on holiday and birthday gifts; vacations that should be taken at specific ages or to special places in the world; and preferences for the continuation of sporting or music abilities of the child.
If you are a parent, you have without doubt experienced a moment of wonder, what would happen if I were not here? Nominating a guardian is a process by which you can answer that question and diminish the twinge of anxiety in the years ahead.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
- represent the estate itself;
- represent the personal representative in his/her role in the probate; and
- represent individuals who have an interest in the estate.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
But Mangalore Chirstians are discovering that the best way to pay tribute to the departed is by alleviating the suffering of others.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
- someone who is comfortable speaking with medical personnel;
- someone who can handle seeing you in a very compromised state; and
- someone who has the time to be at your bedside.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
- transfer on death deed;
- Pay on Death card (POD);
- Transfer on Death card (TOD); and
- joint ownership with the right of survivorship.
Friday, September 23, 2011
"The day which we fear as our last is but the birth of eternity." - Seneca (Roman Philosopher, mid-1st Century AD).
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
- include information on life as well as death;
- provide dates and locations, but be mindful of identity theft (sadly, criminals use this type of information);
- mention a charity in-lieu of flowers if you are inclined; and
- be creative and think outside the box.
Carl E. Gustafson
Born November 20, 1941
Died September 18, 2009
Carl E. Gustafson ended his earthly journey on September 18, 2009. His final days were spent in the palliative care unit at University Hospital and Clinics, where daily he was surrounded by family and friends. His family would like to extend their gratitude to the medical staff at UWHC, especially to the doctors and nurses in the palliative care unit, and to Doctor Adnan Said, who worked with him the past 5 years.
Born at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, Illinois, his family moved to Wisconsin when he was ten years old and settled on the west side of Madison. Carl attended Middleton High School, and then completed the steamfitter program at Madison Area Technical College. He worked as steamfitter for several years and was a member of the Steamfitters Local Union No. 601. Following a back injury he changed career paths, turning his love of cars into a business. He spent the next 30 years as the owner of a used car lot and auto body repair business; first in Middleton, and most recently in Fitchburg. Many may remember his business card, which proclaimed “buy a car from Gus, and get no fuss”.
In 1970 he married the love of his life, and best friend, Sharon (Lamb) Gustafson. Over the course of their marriage they shared many joint ventures: doubling the size of their first home with their own hands, building a family cabin in Westfield, Wisconsin, and for many years working side by side at the family business.
Over his 67 years Carl made countless friends and was gifted with a memory for faces and names. His family often joked that there was no where they could go without him running into someone he knew. Even on a family trip to Disney World, Carl bumped into friends while waiting in line.
He is survived by: his loving wife, Sharon (Lamb) Gustafson; his son Robert (Rhonda) Gustafson of The Village of Dane, and their three sons David (Ashley), Michael, and Eric; his daughter, Melinda (Charles) Gustafson Gervasi, of Madison, and their son Ian; his twin sisters, Patricia (Rodger) Edgren of Marshall, and Judith (Michael) Jennings of Mt. Horeb; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded into death by his father, Carl A. Gustafson and his mother Agnes (Fitzgerald) Gustafson.
Even though his earthly time has come to an end, his spirit and image will live on in the lives of his wife, son, daughter, and grandsons. A visitation will be held on Thursday, October 1st, from 10:30am – 12:30pm at the Brooklyn United Methodist Church (201 Church St., Brooklyn, WI) and will be followed by a memorial service and private burial.