Incapacity Planning Level

Clients at this level are focused solely on their potential incapacity needs and on avoiding the need for a guardianship proceeding should they become incapacitated and have a need for someone else to make health care and financial decisions for them. Often clients at this level are unmarried individuals who are not concerned with where their assets go should they pass away, but instead are focused more on decision making and access to information in the event of an incapacity.

Will Centered Planning Level

At this level, clients want to address their Incapacity Planning concerns, but also want to direct who their assets are distributed to should they pass away, potentially nominate guardians for minor children, and create a plan that designates their beneficiaries. Their Last Will and Testament will accomplish these goals and provide for the administration of their estate through the court driven Probate process. Clients at this level may include unmarried individuals who wish to pass assets to beneficiaries other than those chosen by the State of Wisconsin, as well as married couples who care to nominate their beneficiaries and nominate guardians for minor children. Clients engaging this level of planning understand the Probate process and accept the fact that their estate will likely be subject to Probate when they pass away.

Smart|beginningsSM Trust Planning Level

Our SMART|beginningsSM Planning Level is unique to our firm. Clients that best fit this level of planning are married couples, often with minor children, who care to take advantage of some of the benefits of trust based planning for themselves as well as for their children, but do not have a need for the more advanced aspects of trust planning, such as estate tax concerns. We have created a revocable living trust level specifically tailored to address the concerns of young families, such as avoiding the cost and delay of probate, nominating guardians and financial caretakers for their minor children, and ensuring that if they pass away while their children are minors, all their assets are managed for the benefit of their children in the appropriate manner and until an age or milestone that the parents see fit.

Probate Avoidance Trust Planning Level

Clients at this planning level are concerned with the same issues that are highlighted in our Will-Centered Planning, however they do not want their estate to be subject to the cost, delay, and public nature of Probate. Therefore, their primary motivation for creating a trust is for privacy and organization. They wish to avoid probate, alleviate burden for their loved ones, and they are not interested in many of the other benefits of trust planning such as estate tax planning and asset-protected shares for their beneficiaries. These clients will plan for their potential incapacity and the beneficiaries of their estate, and ensure that post death administration will be handled privately by their loved ones. After death, their estate will be distributed outright to their beneficiaries and there will be no Inheritance Planning for their beneficiaries.

Comprehensive Revocable Trust Planning Level

This level of planning is centered on a comprehensive revocable living trust. Clients at this level of planning are interested in taking full advantage of the many benefits of revocable trust based planning, including expanded incapacity protection, avoiding probate, planning for second marriages or children from outside the current marriage, advanced beneficiary planning with our Possibilities as PromisedSM design process –unique to our firm, planning for a beneficiary with special needs, planning for a family business or family farm, inheritance protection planning, and flexible estate tax planning, in addition to the benefits of the previous levels of planning. This planning level may also include discussion of possible lifetime or post death charitable planning. Often clients will be leaving assets to their children and other beneficiaries in trust, to provide for responsible management of the inheritance as well as asset protection of the inheritance for the beneficiaries.

Private Family CounselSM Trust Planning Level

Clients engaging in this level of planning have an estate that is likely to be taxable, meaning that the size of their total estate is likely to exceed the estate tax exemption amount for either an individual or a married couple, depending on the client. As many people are aware, the estate tax exemption amount is a moving target that is frequently changing, often as a result of political changes. Currently, there is a $5 million estate tax exemption amount per individual. Here we are creating a revocable living trust that has many of the same benefits as the Comprehensive Revocable Trust Planning, but also will provide for affirmative tax planning and the creation of multiple trust shares upon the passing of the first spouse (for married couples), in order to ensure we can take advantage of both spouses’ exemption amounts. In addition to the documents created at previous levels, clients may also be looking at more advanced trust planning options for asset protection reasons, as well such as legacy and heritage building reasons through multi-generational gifting, Dynasty Trusts, Family Foundation, Family LLC, Family Cabin Planning, Charitable Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT), Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT), Standalone IRA Trust, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT), and more.