Wisconsin Online Estate Planning Forms & Legal Documents

Wisconsin online estate planning forms – starting at $159! Click here to get your free estate plan!

Sounds too good to be true? Well that’s because it is.

You would never go online for DIY dental work or DIY surgery, so why do DIY legal forms?  (DIY plumbing videos are dangerous enough!)  The biggest problem with DIY legal forms is they can be completely wrong and have disastrous consequences, but you will never know – you’ll just leave a mess for your kids if you become incapacitated or pass away.

Recently I had a new client come in with the Suze Orman Must Have Documents that they had paid $199 for and just wanted a second opinion to make sure they were ‘all set’. Unfortunately I had to inform them they had just wasted $199.

So what’s wrong with online legal forms?

  1. Their documents did not say what they thought they did.

Legal documents are full of jargon and ‘legalese’. Unfortunately the documents did not actually say what the clients wanted them to say, and they did not have the people named in the places where they thought they had them named (Trustee vs. Personal Representative vs. Guardian vs. Financial POA vs. Health Care POA). In addition, trusts for children were not set up properly and were overly restrictive, restricting their children’s access to funds they may need if their parents passed away.  While they had saved plenty of money and had enough life insurance in place to take care of their children, their documents would not have made any of those funds available to their children for necessary expenses.

  1. Documents were improperly witnessed/notarized.

Each state has very specific laws on who needs to witness or notarize specific estate planning documents, and how many witnesses or whether a notary is needed. There are different rules for a Trust, Will, Financial POA, and Health Care POA.

I’ve seen online forms that are set up completely WRONG and would not be honored by Wisconsin courts or financial institutions.

Even if the form is correct, there are specific laws on who can be a witness, and people often do not pick proper witnesses, rendering their documents VOID.

For example, we had a child acting as Personal Representative for their parent hire us to administer an estate. Their parent drafted his Will using an online form. Their parent had tried to ‘write out’ one of his sons because their relationship had deteriorated, but unfortunately the Will was missing proper witnesses. The son ended up receiving his share of the estate despite the parent’s wishes, and cost the estate thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees in the fight. This all could have been avoided by having an attorney prepare the forms, which would have likely cost under $1,000.

At Schloemer Law Firm, when we draft an estate plan, we provide the witnesses and notary to comply with Wisconsin law.

  1. They were missing important legal forms.

 Online forms are often bare bones and are often missing important documents. A comprehensive estate plan often includes a Living Trust, Funding Letter, Certificate of Trustee Authority, Marital Property Agreement (if married), Pour Over Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will/Health Care Power of Attorney, Deeds, and beneficiary designation forms.

  1. Online legal forms are not state specific and are not customized.

You get what you pay for. Online forms are often bare bones or sloppy and not properly drafted to comply with state laws. In addition, if a client has specific instructions, online forms are often not customizable.

Common situations where customization may be required include:

  • Second marriages or blended family estate planning
  • Business or investment real estate ownership
  • Co-owned real estate or co-owned family cabin
  • Supplemental needs trusts (i.e., special needs trusts)
  • Trusts for grandchildren
  • Trusts for beneficiaries with drug or alcohol dependence

Our forms at Schloemer Law Firm are drafted to comply with Wisconsin state law, and our firm’s forms are updated regularly to respond to changes in the law and developments in dealing with financial institutions.

  1. Online forms do not avoid probate.

Simply signing a Will or Trust does not avoid probate. Additional steps are needed, such as ‘funding’ a Trust, recording of Deeds with the County Register of Deeds, and updating titles and beneficiaries on assets.

An experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that these steps are completed as part of the process.

What are the benefits of hiring a licensed Wisconsin estate planning attorney?

These are important legal documents that have HUGE consequences:

  • Will your estate go through probate in Wisconsin?
  • Who receives your assets when you die?
  • Who will be guardian of minor children if you die?
  • If you become incapacitated, who will have access to your finances?
  • If you become incapacitated, who will work with your doctor and make life and death decisions?

It’s important to make sure you get it right. Hiring a qualified attorney is well worth the cost. By hiring a qualified Wisconsin estate planning attorney you will also receive the following:

  1. Experienced team of professionals who can walk you through the process.
  2. Trusted advisor ready to assist your family if you become incapacitated or pass away.
  3. Customized forms.
  4. Forms compliant with Wisconsin Law.
  5. Qualified Witnesses and Notaries to witness your documents.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney?

First let me say that hiring a qualified advisor will typically save your estate thousands of dollars in the long run. Just as important, doing so will save you and your family a lot of stress and hassle.

Hiring an attorney may not be as expensive as you may think. We offer a no pressure, no obligation, free initial estate planning consultation, and once we know your objectives, we will provide a flat fee estimate.  These fee estimates include all customary conferences and document preparation. Fees typically fall in the range of $750-$3,000, depending on whether you are single or married, whether it is a first marriage or blended family, assets (Do you own real estate or real estate in different counties? Do you own a business? Other unique assets?), and objectives (Are you concerned with Title XIX planning? Are you concerned with estate taxes?).

What is the process to establish an estate plan?

The first step is to call 262-334-3471 or email [email protected] to connect with one of our estate planning paralegals.

For more details on the process, check out our recent blog: https://schloemerlaw.com/wisconsin-estate-plans-faqs/

Next Steps

If you have questions regarding estate planning in Wisconsin, or if you would like assistance in administering an estate in West Bend, Slinger, Germantown, Kewaskum, Port Washington, Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, Washington County, Sheboygan County, Dodge County, Ozaukee County, Waukesha County, or Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, please contact the author of this article, Attorney Amanda N. Sacks, at [email protected] or  you can contact Schloemer Law Firm, S.C. at 262-334-3471 or by email at [email protected].

Originally published: October 17, 2023.


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Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. -Due to the rapidly changing nature of law, Schloemer Law Firm makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of this content. You should consult with an attorney to review the current status of the law and how it applies to your unique circumstances before deciding to take—or refrain from taking—any action.  If you need legal guidance, please contact us at 262-334-3471 or [email protected].