Hooper Law Office,LLC Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Select An Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning involves reviewing and analying your desires and finances today to insure that you and your family are prepared for tomorrow. We offer the following tips to provide you with the information needed to select an estate planning attorney who has the experience and traning to do an excellent job for you.

*Interview only attorneys whose practices are dedicated to planning estates.

*Ask if the attorney will help you avoid the additional costs, delays, loss of privacy and other problems of probate.

*Hire only an attorney you like and can trust.

*Determine the law office's procedure for handling client requests for information and performing leg work before you hire.

*Find out if the attorney will return your phone calls quickly.

*Ask if the attorney will quote y ou a fixed fee for designing and implementing your estate plan.

*Determine whether the attorney can prepare your estate planning documents within a month's time.

*Choose only an estate planning attorney who offers comprehensive estate planning services.

*Be sure you can read and understand your estate planning documents.

*Determine if the attorney remains current with changes to estate planning laws that affect your estate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is a Power of Attorney?

In a Power of Attorney you ("the principal") name a chosen "agent" to exercise legal authority on your behalf the same as if you were doing it yourself. The authority granted can be whatever rights you desire the agent to exercise over your legal affairs and your property. Such authority can include making deposits and withdrawals from your bank accounts, managing your investments, selling your home or anything else you could do yourself.

Typically such Powers of Attorney take legal effect immediately. Also, the legal authority granted the agent in all Powers of Attorney terminates at the principal's death and usually also terminates if the principal becomes mentally disabled.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Healthcare Power of Attorney

All states have laws that authorize you to create a special Power of Attorney in which you designate an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. These Healthcare Powers of Attorney can also be used to provide instructions to your agent concerning the type of care you do or do not want to receive if disabled, seriously ill, or injured. It is important to get professional advice when preparing a Healthcare Power of Attorney because each state has its own requirements. The person you select for your healthcare agent should be someone who not only knows you well, but also understands your views about continuing health care in circumstances where you are terminally ill or suffering from permanent loss of consciousness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tax Law Update Seminar

Hooper Law Office will be hosting Tax Law Update seminars at the Appleton office on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 2:00 and 5:30 p.m., and on Thursday, June 9th at 2:00 p.m.  We will be discussing the changes to both the income and estate tax systems as well as describing planning strategies for the future.  Please RSVP to Amanda.   

Monday, May 23, 2011


Wills are, by far, the most well-known estate planning document; however, their role in estate planning is often misunderstood.  Wills are a useful estate planning device, particularly for younger couples with children.  A will is necessary to appoint a guardian for minor children in case of the parents’ death, and can be used to fund additional property into trust at death.  They also provide a simple solution to create an asset management system for beneficiaries by creating testamentary (will-created) trust shares.  However, many people are unaware that wills do not help families avoid costly probate court procedures upon the death of their loved ones.  In fact, wills essentially act as a set of instructions for the probate courts to follow.  Furthermore, because probate court is public record, anyone is capable of reviewing your estate financials and identify your beneficiaries.  A will may be a viable solution to your estate planning needs but oftentimes there are less costly and better-suited answers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Retirement Planning with Social Security

Social Security is a complex benefit that must be properly utilized in retirement planning.  Divorce, disability, death of a spouse, early retirement, investments and spending habits are just some considerations in this area of financial planning.

When and how an individual or couple takes social security benefits may have a large effect on their retirement.  For instance, if someone is working beyond retirement age, a younger spouse may benefit greatly from collecting on that working spouse’s social security benefits rather than his or her own.  It is important for all of us to understand these benefits and how they may affect our estate and disability planning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust?

An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is a trust created for the benefit of someone other than the Trustmaker that removes life insurance proceeds from the insured’s estate and provides a vehicle with which to direct the proceeds of the policy.  One significant benefit of an ILIT is that it passes the insurance proceeds estate tax-free to the beneficiaries.  There are rules regarding selection of the trustee and careful consideration should be given as to which policies should be transferred to or purchased by the trust. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Your Clients Need You to Know About Social Security

On Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. Hooper Law Office will be presenting a social security seminar for advisors with Guest Speaker Tim Gierke, the District Manager of the Appleton Social Security Office.  The session is free and qualifies for 3 CE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Medicaid & VA seminar

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 2 & 6 p.m. Attorney Harbach will be presenting a general public seminar about Veteran’s Benefits for long term care at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc.  The session is free and he will be available for questions after the seminar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Divestment Strategies and Long Term Care

Preserving assets through divestment is a poorly understood area of law.  Often we are asked about how the annual gift tax exclusion (currently $13,000) relates to long term care planning.  In short, it really doesn’t.  The annual gift tax exclusion does not reduce the Medicaid penalty period for asset transfers that occurred within five years of receiving long term care benefits.  In Wisconsin, nearly any transfer of income, non-exempt assets, and homestead property for less than fair market value is considered a divestment.  However, there are strategies available for preserving the maximum amount of assets and incurring the minimum penalty.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed about fifteen years ago to ensure that people’s health care information remains private.  It prevents health care providers from releasing your private information to unauthorized individuals. However, one unfortunate consequence of this law is that oftentimes loved ones are unable to obtain necessary information when an emergency arises.  A proper estate plan will incorporate a HIPAA-compliant release of information that allows key individuals to speak with health care providers.  There are no requirements regarding who can be named in an authorization and that decision should be made according to your individual circumstances.  

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| Phone: 800-794-5548

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