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The Leitner Law Office, LLP, in Madison Wisconsin, assists clients and their families in a range of estate planning matters, including preparing wills and trusts and assisting in tax planning and planning for incapacity, including preparing guardianships and conservatorships.  In addition, they assist with residential real estate transactions and with family law and divorce.  From our office in Madison, we are well-positioned to help clients who are located throughout Madison Wisconsin and the surrounding counties.  To learn more about how our Madison Wisconsin Estate Planning Law Firm can help you plan for your future and the future of your family, contact Leitner Law Office, LLP for a free initial consultation.

Estate Planning

Although most people work hard to provide for themselves and their families, many people are surprised to learn that estate planning isn't only for the wealthy.  In fact, having an estate plan is essential to protecting your loved ones and yourself in the future.  Our Madison estate planning law firm in Wisconsin can guide you through the estate planning process to establish a plan that is individually tailored to the unique needs of you and your family.  Whether you are an older individual with estate planning needs, or a young parent with children to protect, the Leitner Law Office can help you prepare the documents that are essential to your estate, including financial powers of attorney and advance health care directives (see incapacity planning), as well as:

  • Wills: A will is a written document that allows a person to designate named beneficiaries of their estate and an executor to manage and distribute the estate upon the client's death. As a , I prepare simple wills for clients, as well as pour-over wills, which are designed to work in unison with a living trust.  I also prepare wills with guardianship provisions to protect my clients' minor children.
  • Revocable Living Trusts: A living trust is an entity created to hold assets for the named beneficiaries, and it is managed by a trustee.  I prepare living trusts and can assist you in properly funding your trust with your assets.

Estate Tax Planning

I frequently assist clients in estate planning by carefully considering the potential application of estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax laws on an estate.  This need frequently arises in complex estates with extensive assets, such as those involving closely-held business interests or multiple interests in real estate.  

  • Estate Tax Returns: I work closely with accountants to ensure that deductions are taken in a manner that maximizes an estate's tax savings.  I counsel clients regarding the use of disclaimers and other post-death estate and income tax savings techniques.  In addition, I assist clients with qualifying for a special use valuation, obtaining an extension of time to file or pay estate taxes, or seeking a deferral of estate taxes when appropriate.
  • Gift Tax Returns: I prepare gift tax returns reporting clients' gifts of cash, fractional interests in real property, and business interests.  I also advise clients on estate planning techniques leveraging their annual gift tax exclusion.  In addition, I counsel clients regarding making elections necessary to avoid generation-skipping transfer tax. 
  • Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax: Generation skipping transfer taxes (GST taxes) apply to outright gifts and transfers in trust that skip a generation.  They also apply to unrelated individuals who are younger than the donor by more than 37.5 years.  GST taxes are imposed if the transfer avoids incurring estate or gift tax at each generation level.  While there is no limit on the GST exemption for 2010, the GST exemption amount for 2011 is $1 million.  GST tax is imposed at the highest marginal estate and gift tax rate applicable at the time of the gift, bequest, transfer, or termination.

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Probate Administration

Probate is the process for administering a deceased person's estate where the State recognizes the executor or administrator as the estate's official probate representative.  This process validates the deceased's will, ensures that any final bills, expenses, and taxes are paid, and distributes the remaining property to the named beneficiaries as the will directs.  If the decedent died without a will or other legal instrument, probate may still occur with the estate being distributed to the decedent's heirs as defined by Wisconsin's Probate Code.  

I help executors through all aspects of the probate process, including preparing and submitting petitions for probate (will) or administration (intestate) to the Wisconsin Register or Surrogate Court, obtaining any information necessary to prepare the estate's fiduciary tax returns, preparing inheritance and estate tax returns, communicating with difficult beneficiaries, and obtaining liability releases.

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Real Estate Law

We handle all aspects of residential real estate transactions, from reviewing the intial Offer to Purchase through closing and title registration. In addition, we occasionally assist small businesses with commercial real estate transactions. For additional information on how we can assist you with your real estate transaction, please feel free to contact the Leitner Law Office, LLP today.

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Incapacity Planning

Incapacity planning is an essential part of estate planning for people of all ages, especially parents of minor children who should have a plan for their children's financial security, safety, health, and other needs in the event that they become unable to care for their children.  Depending on your needs and the needs of your family, I can assist you with all aspects of incapacity planning, including:

  • Guardianships/Conservatorships: Guardianships (also known as conservatorships) are court-supervised proceedings which name a person or persons to serve as "guardian" over an incapacitated person or minor child and manage that person's or child's affairs.  A court-appointed "guardian of the estate" manages the incapacitated person's or minor's income and assets, whereas a "guardian of the person" provides for the health, safety, and personal needs of a minor or an incapacitated individual.  One person may also serve as both the guardian of the estate and of the person.
  • Financial Powers of Attorney: A financial power of attorney is a written document that allows you to designate a person or persons to manage your finances in the event that you become incapacitated.  Through a power of attorney, you can give your designated agent the power to manage bank accounts and other financial accounts, buy and sell real estate, and sign tax returns or other financial documents.
  • Advance Health Care Directives: Advance health care directives, also known as durable powers of attorney for health care and living wills, allow you to designate a person or persons to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.  An advance health care directive allows you to express your wishes regarding all aspects of health care, including life support and other end-of-life decisions.

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In Wisconsin, a "mark" can be a label, trademark, trade name, term, design, pattern, model, device, shopmark, drawing, specification, designation, or form of advertisement that is used by a person or business to designate, make known, or distinguish goods or services. To help protect your small business's trademark, you should register it with the Secretary of State and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and make sure to use it such that is becomes associated with your business. I can assist your business with registering your trademark, including searching for already registered or pending marks to ensure your trademark is available, as well as completing the complex application process.

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