People come up with all sorts of reasons and excuses for not taking the initiative to get a will. For many, creating a will means contemplating their death, and that makes them uncomfortable. Others believe that only the rich and wealthy need wills. Others insist that they don’t have time right now or will do it at a later point in their lives when they acquire more “stuff.” However, none of these reasons legitimize not having a will. Every adult, regardless of wealth, age, assets, or number of children needs an estate plan.
Think of all the assets that you own and imagine them placed on a conveyor belt. More than likely, you have some assets that would be considered non-probate, meaning that the property is automatically assigned to someone else when you die (e.g., life insurance and pension plans with designated beneficiaries, property owned in a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, payable on death bank accounts, etc.). These assets are taken off of the conveyor belt and assigned to the designated person. The assets that you have left are considered to be probate assets of the Estate. Having a will ensures that you ultimately decide whom those assets are given to, and those assets are taken off of the conveyor belt. If there is no will, those assets go to the end of the conveyor belt – intestacy. Now, instead of choosing which family member gets what assets, the State does it for you.
Intestacy law in Wisconsin can be muddled and often times very confusing to navigate. Intestacy gets even more complicated when you have a complex family with multiple generations. Additionally, Wisconsin’s intestacy laws do not necessarily favor your spouse, and they often don’t. Having a will ensures that your property is transferred to those who you are closest to.
Unlike many other states, Wisconsin is a community property state, meaning that assets acquired during the course of a marriage are owned by both spouses equally. Assets brought to the marriage by one of the spouses are considered separate property solely owned by that original spouse. If one spouse dies without a will specifying who gets what assets, Wisconsin’s intestate laws will decide that for them. Even if your wishes are well known by many, intestacy law ignores any such evidence and will assign your assets according to the statutes.
Of course, there is much more to estate planning than simply having a will on file, but having one is a great first step. No one likes to think about dying one day, but by planning ahead and creating a will, you can ensure that those who you love are protected and provided for. Our experienced attorneys at Levine Eisberner LLC are more than willing to help you make those preparations. Call us now for a free consultation at 1-888-367-8198.