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Robert S. Duxstad
Daniel P. Bestul
Lance A. McNaughton

Easing Grief: Simple But Important Steps Can Help Soften Death's Blow

Posted: 5.30.2019

The death of a family member or loved one, especially one that is sudden and unexpected, can elicit a profoundly emotional response among those who survive. The days following the death see a combination of shock, sadness, laughter and tears.Ideally, family and friends can gather in common support, share stories, and, together, begin the long grieving process. Simultaneously, however, those closest to  ...Read More

Alone Time: The Importance of Private Meetings With Senior Clients

Posted: 5.30.2019

A variety of circumstances bring us clients looking to create or revise their estate plans. The birth of a child, for example, often results in a first will because the new parents want to nominate a guardian – someone to raise their child if they cannot. Years later, those children are grown, have no need for a guardian, and are ready, when the time comes, to take on the responsibilities of pers  ...Read More

New Budget Deal Brings Important Changes to Social Security

Posted: 11.12.2015

Last month, two branches of our federal government compromised (really!) and authorized a full-blown federal budget. The agreement being so remarkable in its own right, its finer details didn’t receive much attention. Within its pages, though, was one change to the Social Security program that bears special mention. It applies to what’s commonly known as the “file-and-suspend” strategy. To understa  ...Read More

Giving Away the Farmhouse (or any house): Asset Protection Deserves Careful Thought

Posted: 4.22.2015

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is how they can stop the government from taking their home, if they ever move to a nursing home. They ask about gifting it to their children, or placing it in a trust, to make sure that the house isn’t lost to enormous medical expenses. I understand their concern. Your home is one of your most important assets, both financially and emotionally.   ...Read More

IRA Beneficiaries Deserve Careful Attention

Posted: 10.31.2014

I have talked before about the options available to clients hoping to avoid a probate of their estate. One easy way to bypass the probate process is to execute “payable on death” or beneficiary instructions on financial accounts. This can be done on everything from insurance policies to bank accounts. When it comes to Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, the importance of designating beneficiar  ...Read More

Guardianship - A Valuable Last Resort

Posted: 10.24.2014

A conversation about guardianships is common in estate planning, especially for younger families who have or are anticipating children. In fact, the nomination of guardian – someone to exercise legal authority over their minor children when parents die or are otherwise absent – is one of the most important reasons for younger adults to create a Will. Children lack independent legal authority to mak  ...Read More

You, too, can leave a legacy

Posted: 8.24.2014

At the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s web site, readers can search a database of donors who are on record for making a charitable gift of $1,000,000 or more. I’m not on that list. No one I know is on that list. Theodore Stanley is on that list. His foundation made a gift of $650,000,000 to the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts. My zero key isn’t stuck; and, while I have no idea what the Broad Ins  ...Read More

A Simple Form Can Make a Tough Process Easier

Posted: 7.29.2014

I have received phone calls in the past from distressed family members in conflict trying to make funeral arrangements for a loved one. It would seem to be a simple question, “Who has authority to make decisions regarding funeral and burial arrangements?” A health care power of attorney and living will, commonly called advance directives, designate individuals to make health care decisions for an indivi  ...Read More

New Real Estate Transfer Rules Shouldn’t Discourage Smart Estate Planning

Posted: 4.29.2014

Wisconsin’s real estate transfer tax return is pretty much what it sounds like. Real estate sales are subject to a sales tax (or transfer tax) just like auto sales, clothing sales, and electronic sales, to name a few. The transfer tax return is what you file to show how much tax is due on the sale. Not every real estate transfer is subject to tax: gift transfers between parents and children, and transfe  ...Read More

Who’s the Daddy? Downloaded Agreement Doesn't Hold Up.

Posted: 1.25.2014

A man who thought he was doing a favor has, instead, been told he’s a father. According to published news reports, a Kansas judge ruled that the man’s failure to follow the procedures spelled out in the state’s artificial insemination statute means he is the child’s father in the eyes of the law, and the state can compel him to support the child. (Wisconsin has a similar law and it is likely that if the  ...Read More