Monday, May 5, 2014

Changes In Wisconsin Trust Law

The author's inquisitive older child.  One who also loves to learn and ask questions.  Possible scientist, possible lawyer?  Time will tell.

Why did you become a lawyer Mama?  This question was posed to me as my oldest child settled into bed last week.  Two reasons: I wanted to help people, and I love to learn.  Law allows me to do both of those things.  He floated off to sleep and I went down the hall to the computer where to process the end-of-the-day emails that routinely pile up from 3:30pm until the fall to sleep, a time I devote to my young children.  Waiting in the email was a reminder about an upcoming Continuing Legal Education seminar offered by the Wisconsin State Bar.  It is a good thing I like life-long learning, because according to the flier -- everything we knew about trusts in Wisconsin is about to change.  Here is a quick overview of why, put together by my associate......who has already attended the seminar!

 2013 Wisconsin Act 92 goes into effect on July 1, 2014. This law replaces Wisconsin's current trust statutes with the Uniform Trust Code, and also adds some additional provisions. Some of the most notable and relevant provisions of the new trust law are discussed below.

    1) The new law arguably diminishes the court's oversight of trusts. For example, there will no longer be continuing judicial supervision of a trust unless an interested person files a petition with the court for such supervision to occur. Additionally, there is no longer an annual account filing requirement for testamentary trusts.

    2) Pet trusts are now specifically allowed.

    3) The default rule is that trusts are revocable. In order to be irrevocable, the trust must specifically state that, or it will be presumed revocable. This rule only applies to trusts created after July 1, 2014 

    4) The new law allows for nomination of a "trust protector." This is someone who is given power over the trust, but in a different capacity than the trustee or other directing party. The trust protector's powers must be stated in the trust. In general, the trustee must follow the direction of the trust protector unless doing so would constitute a serious breach of duty.

Watch for more as the new trust law unfolds here in Wisconsin.  Have a great week, and please remember that a blog is not legal advice.  Consult an attorney in your state for advice specific to your situation.

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