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Important Features of An Estate Plan

Malm & LaFave, S.C. July 4, 2023

Estate planning can be a confusing and overwhelming process for any individual, regardless of wealth, marital status, or age. However, having estate planning documents can provide a peace of mind that your hard-earned assets, loved ones, and children will be taken care of after your passing. The unexpected can happen at any time, and it is important to be prepared. Though each estate plan will depend on individual circumstances, this post will identify five key aspects that can benefit any individual during their preparation for the future.


One of the most fundamental aspects to an estate plan is a will. Wills outline specifically how you want your assets to be handled. With this document, you can name beneficiaries, identify a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your estate, and appoint guardians to take care of your children in the event of an emergency. It is important to update your will periodically as your life circumstances change to ensure your assets are always handled according to your wishes.


Trusts are a great tool used in estate planning to ensure your assets go to specific beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts. Revocable trusts are created during the grantor’s lifetime and can be amended or terminated per a change in circumstances. Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed or terminated once they are created. Special Needs Trusts can also be beneficial for individuals who receive public benefits, such as SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, and more. Special Needs Trusts protect an individual’s assets without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits. It can be helpful to contact an attorney to determine which type of trust would be beneficial for your estate planning needs.

Durable Power of Attorney

Durable power of attorney (DPOA) allows you to appoint another individual to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Unlike an ordinary power of attorney document, a durable power of attorney remains effective even when you are unable to make a decision. DPOAs prevent the exploitation of an individual’s assets and finances during vulnerable situations.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Similar to durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney documents allow you to specifically outline your wishes regarding your physical or mental healthcare treatment. This includes outlining your final wishes regarding life-sustaining options. In the event you become incapable of making your own decision, with this document, you can appoint an agent to make decisions for you. For a health care power of attorney document to be valid in Wisconsin, it must be a signed written document witnessed by two people, voluntarily drafted and executed, and will not come into effect until two physicians deem you incapacitated.

Guardianship Designations

Appointing a guardian for your children under the age of 18 can ensure they will be taken care of in the event of an emergency. In Wisconsin, guardianship designations can be made through specific statements in your will.

While many of these documents are available online, consulting an experienced estate planning attorney can ensure no mistakes are made and your assets are handled with the upmost importance. Whether you are looking to begin the estate planning process or simply revise your existing documents, the attorneys at Malm & LaFave, S.C. are ready and able to assist you.