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Thursday April 18, 2019

Personal Planner

Wills - Good and Bad

Wills - Good and Bad

Where is the Missing Will?

More than 40 wills were submitted to the probate court, with a multitude of potential heirs each claiming to be the true recipients of the estate of Business Owner who passed away in 1976. With a $2.5 billion estate at stake, there was intense interest in the decision of the court.

After extensive review of the 40 documents, the court finally determined that none of the 40 wills were valid. Because there was no valid will, the court divided the $2.5 billion estate among 22 relatives. Court costs, attorney costs and estate taxes were enormous, but the 22 heirs still each received millions of dollars.

Why is a Will Important?

There are at least seven reasons for creating a will. A "peace of mind" estate plan starts with your will. The will passes your property to family, friends and favored organizations, could direct distribution of a recent inheritance, may fix errors in living trust funding, allows you to select a guardian, enables you to disinherit a child or other relative, permits you to select your executor and may help with a simplified probate.

1. Transfer of Property: There are some types of property that are best transferred by will. Many types of personal assets are difficult to transfer through a living trust or are not appropriate for a "pay on death" transfer. Because vehicles and other personal assets are likely to be bought and sold, it is much easier to keep vehicles, furniture, collections and other items in the probate estate and transfer them by will.

2. Potential Inheritance: You might be planning to receive an inheritance from a parent or other relative, but the inheritance could be delayed by the probate process, potential estate issues or other reasons. Therefore, when you finally receive title to the property, there may not be a convenient time or opportunity to transfer the assets into a revocable living trust. As a result, the inheritance will form part of your estate.

There also have been cases in which a person passes away in a tragic accident. The estate may receive an insurance settlement or a claim under a wrongful death action. These assets would become part of the probate estate and are transferred under the residuary clause of your will.

3. Living Trust Errors: A living trust is a very appropriate way of avoiding the probate process. However, in too many cases a person has a valid living trust but has not properly transferred the real estate, securities accounts or other assets to the trust. As a result, the property that has not been legally transferred to the trust will be part of the probate estate covered by your will.

4. Guardian for Minors: The selection of a guardian for minor children is done through your will. Most states do not permit you to use a living trust (there are a few exceptions) for this purpose, so it is very important to designate the guardian in your will. When you create the will and designate the guardian of the person, it is also quite common to establish a family trust for the minor children and appoint the trustee.

5. Disinherit Someone: It is possible to disinherit a child or other heir. The appropriate place to explain that disinheritance or explain why the inheritance is a nominal amount (such as $1.00) is in your will.

6. Select the Executor: Your executor is a key person for a successful estate property transition. The executor will inventory your estate, advertise for creditors, pay bills and taxes, submit your will to the probate court and obtain the court's approval for the final distribution. Your will is the document in which you will name your executor. Even if you have a revocable living trust with a trustee and a successor, it is essential to select an executor who will manage your probate property.

7. Simplify Probate: In many states it is possible for people who pass away with modest to moderate resources to have a simplified or summary probate. This permits your executor to manage your property and make distribution of it with very minimal contact with the probate courts. For example, California allows many estates with assets valued under $150,000 to use a simplified probate process. The executor will follow the directions in your will and distribute your property accordingly. In most cases, this will simplify administration and reduce your estate costs.

Good and Bad Wills

As was the case in the estate of Business Owner, there are many submitted wills that are not deemed valid or legal. In order to have a valid or legal will, you need to comply with the state law requirements for wills. While there is some variation between the states, most states will follow several guidelines.

1. Legal Age: In most states you must be 18 years old to sign a will.

2. Sound Mind: As we become more senior, we do not have as clear a mind as we had back in our youth. Most states permit you to create a will if you have "lucid intervals," understand the nature of your property and the fact that the will is going to direct the transfer of that property to your selected recipients.

3. Typed or Printed: A will normally is either typed or printed. While some states permit handwritten or other types of wills, the vast majority of wills will be typed or printed and will contain at least one substantive transfer of property.

4. Date and Sign: Your will must be dated and signed. The date is essential in order to make certain that this is your final will. Many individuals might write and sign two or more wills during a lifetime. Only your final will is going to be used by the probate court to distribute your property.

5. Witnesses: Under your state law, you will need to sign your will in the presence and hearing of two witnesses. Your witnesses must be adults who are of sound mind and should not be beneficiaries under the will. They need to be told that this is a will, but you do not need to disclose the contents of your will to the witnesses.

6. Self-Proving Will: In some states, it is permissible to have a notary or an affidavit witness form in which the will is either notarized or the person pledges under perjury that this is a valid will. If the will is "self-proved," it will simplify the probate process. Ordinarily, the witness is not required to testify in the probate court with a self-proved will.

Published October 26, 2018

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Shelby Harder, 2018
Dr. Irving Auld and Dorothy
Roher Auld Scholarship

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Juliana E. Olsen-Valdez, 2018
Carroll Family Scholarship

"Lawrence University is a great place for students looking to embrace their multi-interested approach to learning. As a Geology major, I have spent many long hours in laboratories. But, I have also had the opportunity to organize and lead students on outdoor backpacking trips, help build a stronger community for International students, participate in dialogues on campus initiatives, attend dozens of musical events, and study abroad in a field-based geology program, all while taking classes in a variety of academic spheres on campus. Lawrence, as an institution and student body, creates a collective of learners, listeners, and leaders who are continuously evolving their understanding of the world around them. I am fortunate to have the support of the Carroll Family Scholarship, so that I can say I am a part of this exceptional community too!"

Weiqi "Vicky" Liang, 2019
Marian H. Cuff Endowed Scholarship

"Lawrence is a special institution with nice people around the campus. I better myself by trying out different things and using new ways to think critically. Even though I am a Philosophy major, I have successfully taken classes in Anthropology, Biology, Economics, and Government. In addition, I still find many great extracurricular opportunities to explore, such as singing with Viking Chorale, even though I am not a music major. While having the great experience of volunteering at the elderly center last year, I became an elder advocacy coordinator at the Volunteer Community Service Center. At Lawrence, I've learned to handle difficult academic problems while looking forward to exploring possible opportunities. I am very grateful to be awarded the Marian H. Cuff Endowed Scholarship for every year I have been here, and appreciate that the scholarship has provided this wonderful Lawrence experience to me."

Anthony Cardella, 2018
Ansorge Family Scholarship

"I am so excited that I am able to attend Lawrence University. I know that I will make great progress studying piano with Dr. Michael Mizrahi. Since being at Lawrence I've already made a lot of progress and I really love it here. I am so grateful for the Ansorge Family Scholarship that made it possible for me to come to Lawrence because without it, I might not have been able to afford the cost of attending a school that is a great fit for me and a place where I will learn so much and go so far."

Milwaukee-Downer Scholarships and Professorships

Some of the many recipients of Milwaukee-Downer scholarships gather for a photo with Carolyn King Stephens M-D'62 and Marlene Crupi-Widen M-D'55 in January 2014 at the annual scholarship luncheon.

Rosamund Victoria Bille Adler Scholarship
Dr. Charles E. Albright Scholarship
Helen Daniels Bader Scholarship
James G. and Ethel M. Barber Scholarship
Catharine Beecher Endowed Fund for Downer Women
Bessie A. Bell Scholarship
Berk Scholarship
Frederick C. Best Scholarship
Beta Study Club Scholarship
Lynde Bradley Scholarship
Lucia R. Briggs-Alumnae Scholarship
Edith Lange Brooks Scholarship
Anne Barman Caldwell Scholarship
Alice Miller Chester Scholarship
City of Milwaukee Student Funds Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1940 Fund
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1942 Fund
College Endowment Association Scholarship
Janet Cope Crawford Scholarship
Jessie Mabbott Daniels Scholarship
F. T. Day Scholarship
Rufus Dodge Scholarship
Julia P. Ely and Hannah R. Vedder Memorial Scholarship
General Endowed Scholarship - M-D College
Dr. Alfred W. and Mrs. Ada F. Gray Scholarship
Berenice E. Hess Scholarship Endowment
Lucille Ray Hibbard Scholarship
Belle Austin Jacobs Scholarship
Helen McDermott Jurack and Ronald J. Mason Scholarship
Marjorie S. Logan Scholarship
Nellie Maxwell Scholarship
S. Annabelle & Paul McGuire Scholarship
Memorial Scholarship Fund - Milwaukee-Downer
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1953 Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1955 Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1956 Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1957 Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Class of 1958 and 1959 50th Reunion Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer Club Scholarship
Milwaukee-Downer/Lawrence College Consolidation 50th Anniversary Scholarship
Francis Evelyn Kelley Morgan Memorial Scholarship
O'Neill-Anderson Family Scholarship Endowment
Elizabeth A. Olson Scholarship
Gilbert Haven Peirce, Sr. and Emma Elizabeth Manor Peirce Milwaukee-Downer Scholarship
Aleida J. Pieters Scholarship
Matilda Siefert Puelicher Scholarship
Elizabeth Ann Richardson Scholarship
William M. Ross Memorial Scholarship
Elizabeth Rossberg Scholarship
Charles Frederic Sammond Scholarship
Mildred L. Schroeder Scholarship
Sivyer Educational Fund for Women
Marion Merrill Smith Scholarship
Dr. Elizabeth A. Steffen Scholarship
W. Mead and Elizabeth McKone Stillman Scholarship
Strzelczyk Family Scholarship
Clare Scherf Sweetman Scholarship
Raymond H. and Jane K. Taylor Scholarship
Jerline E. Walfoort Memorial Scholarship
Barbara E. Wehr Fund
Harmony Weissbach Scholarship
Martha and Frances Wheelock Scholarship
James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professorship of Theatre and Drama
T. A. Chapman Professorship in Music
Alice G. Chapman Professorship in Physics
Alice G. Chapman Librarianship
Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professorship

Angela Small Fry Intia, 2019
Maurine Campbell Scholarship

"Thanks to the Maurine Campbell scholarship, I have been able to attend the amazing school that is Lawrence University. With the help from this scholarship, I have been able to pursue my dream career in chemistry working with the outstanding and extremely helpful faculty here. Even outside of chemistry I take the time for exploration into my interests and want to give back through my work as a resident life advisor, stock room assistant, and student supervisor at Bon Appetit. Everything I have learned here, academically or not has forever molded the person I am today."

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