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  • Attorney Jill Johnson

What!? Still No Will?


What’s the hang-up? If you have a simple estate, writing a will is not that hard.

In the State of Wisconsin, there are only 3 requirements:

• It must be in writing.

• It must be signed.

• It must be witnessed by two people not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Of course, there is no requirement you have a will at all. However, if you want to be in charge of who gets your stuff after death, you need that will. And if you have minor children, I consider a will a requirement, in order to plan for their care.

Keep in mind that you can direct where a lot of your stuff will go by using beneficiary designations instead of a will. Anything that has a beneficiary statement travels to the next owner directly. And in the event of a conflict between the will

and a beneficiary statement, the beneficiary statement trumps the will.

This is an important point to grasp, so here’s an example: If you lose track of your beneficiary choice on an account, and then later mistakenly direct that same account to a different person via your will, guess who gets the account? The person listed on the beneficiary

statement. (There have been unhappy cases where a man dies and the second wife discovers that a life insurance policy is still going a previous wife.)

Lesson here: Keep track your beneficiary designations! (An Excel spreadsheet works well.) Then remember to review your estate plan every 2-5 years or after a big event such as the birth of child, marriage, divorce or death of a beneficiary.


Another tip: You can file your will with the probate court in your county for a small fee. Some people like this because they are assured that the will is safe and will not be misplaced.

Annoying but necessary disclaimer: This blog provides general educational information.

Nothing here should be considered legal advice.

If you wish to discuss your personal situation, call me to set up a phone consultation: 608.338.8308.

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