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Waukesha Law Blog

Retirement funds can be primary concern in divorce

Many couples in Wisconsin who decide to divorce have discovered that untangling their financial lives is even more complex than separating their personal and emotional ones. Retirement funds are often the largest asset that belongs to a couple's marital property, and the distribution of these funds during a divorce settlement can be difficult and challenging, especially when both parties are dependent on these accounts for their future financial stability.

Even when both parties reach an agreement regarding the division of retirement accounts, the complex nature of the issue is not fully resolved. Retirement funds are governed by a number of financial regulations that cover a range of circumstances, including how they are to be dealt with during a divorce. When these rules and guidelines are not followed, couples could face serious impacts in terms of expensive penalties and costly taxation.

A special needs trust may help you provide for your child

As the parent of a child with special needs, you certainly do not consider his or her disabilities as something that holds him or her back. You undoubtedly embrace your child's differences as part of his or her wonderful personality, physical appearance and general being. You likely have no intention of making your child feel as if he or she should be held back by any disabilities.

Of course, your child may still need special accommodations to make his or her life easier or in order to receive necessary medical treatment or other related attention that falls into the category of special needs. While you do your best to meet these needs, you may worry about how your child will fare in the event of your passing.

Why a trust may be the right choice for adult children

One error that Wisconsin parents might make in creating an estate plan is passing on assets directly to adult children who might be irresponsible with them. While it is not uncommon for parents to place assets in a trust for the benefit of minor children, they might not think to do so for adult children.

However, many people may lack the knowledge needed to manage a sudden inheritance. This means they might also not be knowledgeable enough to pick the right financial adviser. Others might be spendthrifts. Some people might even struggle with addictions such as gambling or drugs. In any of these cases, a trust can be set up to manage how assets are distributed to beneficiaries in a way that preserves the wealth.

Inheritances and child support judgments

Wisconsin residents who are creating estate plans should make sure that their beneficiaries do not have issues with creditors. Otherwise, those creditors could seize their inheritances. In one case, a woman left her house to her three sons. However, one of them had a child support judgment that prevented him from being able to take possession.

One duty of an executor is to perform a search for any child support judgments. Taxes that the estate owes is the only priority over this type of lien. Therefore, this lien must be paid out of a beneficiary's inheritance. If there is anything left over, that remaining amount still goes to the beneficiary.

Options for recovering past due child support payments

A noncustodial parent in Wisconsin or any other state may be required to pay child support. These payments are designed to meet the best interests of the child and support the notion that parenting is a shared responsibility. Although an individual may be ordered to pay child support, he or she may not always do so. Reasons for failing to make payments may range from a simple inability to pay to a belief that the amount is too high.

Typically, the amount of a child support payment is determined by looking at the noncustodial parent's income and expenses. If a custodial parent does not receive his or her payment, it may be possible to notify the court that made the order to pay. The court may work with the parents to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem. If mediation or similar efforts don't work, a noncustodial parent may be held in contempt of court.

Buying a home may be harder than getting married

Wisconsin residents may feel that buying a home with a partner is easier than getting married. However, the opposite may actually be true. For instance, those who want to end their marriage may only need to divide joint assets. To leave a house, a person will need to find a buyer, and that may not be easy depending on the condition of the home.

There is generally no returning a house once it has been purchased. This means that an individual may not have as much leeway to change his or her mind without incurring a financial loss. When a person plans on getting married, there is generally still time to back out without losing everything that was spent on a ring or the wedding itself. As people get older, they tend to get better. This is generally not true with a home.

Does your real estate purchase contract have the right stuff?

Are you buying a house here in Waukesha? Congratulations! Before you can take possession of your new home, you will need to go through several steps that include reviewing, negotiating and executing numerous documents.

The first major document that requires your attention is the purchase and sale contract. This outlines the terms of your deal with the seller. It should contain all of your agreements with the seller, but will generally need to include certain elements in order to protect your interests.

Things to consider when creating an estate plan

Some Wisconsin residents who are creating an estate plan might think of it as primarily a way to pass assets on to loved ones. However, such plans have a number of other purposes. Having one is important for all adults and not just for wealthy people. An estate plan can arrange for end-of-life care, choose a guardian in case a person becomes incapacitated or specify funeral arrangements. These types of specific instructions may help relieve some of the stress on loved ones.

People should review their IRAs, life insurance policies and checking and savings accounts. Beneficiaries can be named so the assets go directly to them without having to go through probate.

How a trust may be useful in an estate plan

Some Pennsylvania residents who are creating an estate plan might want to consider using a revocable living trust. Trusts can have a number of uses and are not just for wealthy people. For example, a trust could have a successor trustee appointed to take care of assets if the settlor becomes incapacitated. It could also be used to care for a disabled loved one.

A professional trustee with investment experience can manage the trust in a way that increases the value of assets for beneficiaries. A trust can also be used to specify how and when assets are distributed. While a trust can delay asset distribution, it can also allow for it to be faster than with a will. A will generally must go through a probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive, but assets in a trust do not have to do so. A trust can also be helpful if a person has children from previous relationships to ensure that beneficiaries get what they are intended to receive.

Identifying divorce risks in a relationship

People in Wisconsin might be more likely to get a divorce if they have developed certain behavioral patterns. John Gottman, an author, researcher and marriage counselor, has identified criticism, stonewalling, contempt and defensiveness as behaviors that couples must stop if they want to save their marriage.

Gottman says contempt is the most dangerous of the four. Examples of contempt including mimicking the other person, eye rolling and behaving disrespectfully toward the other person. In fact, disrespect is at the heart of contempt, and according to Gottman, this is why contempt is so destructive to a relationship.

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