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Kevin O'Flaherty

As we approach 2024,  changes to Wisconsin estate planning 2024 laws are on the horizon. These changes will impact the way you navigate your estate and gift tax exclusions, requiring a fresh perspective and updated strategies. This article will guide you through these updates and provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions with your Wisconsin Estate Planning.

Navigating the New Estate and Gift Tax Exclusions

Illustration of estate and gift tax exclusions in 2024

In 2024, Wisconsin will see significant increases in lifetime gift and estate tax exemptions, as well as annual exclusions for gifts. These recent developments are a result of congressional action and may affect property tax assessments in the state. Consequently, staying updated and adjusting your estate planning approaches as necessary is advised.

However, the potential implications of sunset provisions must not be overlooked. These provisions could cause high transfer tax exemptions to revert to pre-2018 levels in 2026, early planning is imperative for maximizing the benefits of the increased exemptions.

Adjusted Lifetime Gift and Estate Tax Exemption

In 2024, the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption will increase by $690,000. This substantial increase allows for more tax-free transfers, benefiting individuals and married couples alike. Married couples, in particular, can transfer an additional $1,380,000 to family members if they opt to split those gifts. This change is a result of recent developments in estate planning laws and regulations.

The lifetime exemption is set to increase. The annual exemption rate for lifetime gifts to a non-citizen spouse will also rise to $185,000 by 2024. If both spouses are not prepared to utilize their exemptions, one spouse should contemplate gift planning to “lock-in” the utilization of all their exemptions.

Increased Annual Exclusion for Gifts

The annual exclusion amount for annual exclusion gifts will rise to $18,000 for individuals and $36,000 for married couples in 2024. This increase is a part of the historical trend of annual exclusion amounts in the US, which has gradually risen over the years due to economic factors such as inflation and changes in tax laws.

As the annual exclusion amount is adjusted annually for inflation, staying updated about current exemption rates and consulting the latest information from the IRS or a tax professional is recommended. This increase offers individuals and married couples the opportunity to transfer more wealth without incurring gift tax, allowing for more strategic gift planning.

Implications of Sunset Provisions

Sunset provisions significantly influence future estate planning. These provisions stipulate that high transfer tax exemptions will revert to pre-2018 levels in 2026. This potential change emphasizes the importance of early planning to fully utilize the increased exemptions while they are available.

Payments made for qualified educational and medical expenses are exempt from the gift tax, providing an additional planning strategy. Maintaining awareness of the potential impact of sunset provisions allows for better decision-making and wealth protection for future generations.

Estate Planning with Updated Tax Laws

Illustration of updated tax laws for estate planning in Wisconsin

New tax laws necessitate strategic estate planning to optimize the benefits of the new exemptions and consider the impact of inflation adjustments. By staying informed and adapting your strategies, you can ensure that your estate plan remains effective and compliant with current laws.

For clients with considerable wealth and available exemptions, it is crucial to develop strategies that maximize utilization of exemptions in light of the sunset provisions. Married couples, in particular, should consider joint planning to take full advantage of the increased exclusions and exemptions.

Impact of Inflation Adjustments

Inflation adjustments influence estate planning by:

  • raising the exemption amount for estate and gift tax exemptions based on the inflation factor
  • allowing for more assets to be transferred without incurring taxes
  • providing additional flexibility in estate planning.

The procedure for calculating inflation adjustments involves increasing the exemption amount in increments based on the inflation factor. Given the expected increase in exclusion amounts due to inflation adjustments, monitoring these changes and adjusting your estate planning strategies as needed is advised.

Strategies for Maximizing New Exemptions

Maximizing the new exemptions may be achieved by utilizing strategies such as creating Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and front-loading 529 Plans. LLCs can provide asset protection, avoidance of probate, flexible allocation of rights, and centralized management and succession.

End-of-year timing also offers an opportunity to plan strategically and make use of available tax breaks and deductions before the year concludes. Employing these strategies and remaining updated on the latest developments in estate planning laws and regulations can help optimize the new exemptions and safeguard your wealth for future generations.

Considerations for Married Couples

Married couples should prioritize joint planning to maximize the benefits of increased exclusions and exemptions. By collaborating on an estate plan that addresses child guardianship, property ownership, and healthcare preferences, couples can maximize the advantages and avoid potential drawbacks.

The marital deduction allows a spouse to transfer an unlimited amount of assets to their partner without incurring tax, facilitating optimal use of both spouses’ estate tax exemptions and protecting assets that will benefit the surviving spouse from estate tax. Taking these factors into account and collaborating enables married couples to form a comprehensive estate plan that suits their unique needs and circumstances.

Modernizing Your Estate Plan

Modern estate plans should incorporate living trusts, durable powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions, and provisions for digital assets. By including these components in your estate plan, you can ensure that your wishes are respected and that your assets are managed and distributed according to your preferences.

Remaining updated about recent changes in estate planning laws and regulations, including those proposed by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, is key to maintaining a current and effective estate plan. By modernizing your estate plan, you can better protect your wealth and legacy for future generations.

The Role of Living Trusts in Estate Planning

Living trusts play a crucial role in estate planning, allowing you to retain control over your assets while alive and determining how those assets will be managed and distributed both during your lifetime and after your passing. Establishing a living trust can provide numerous advantages, such as:

  • Avoiding probate proceedings
  • Reducing costs
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Offering asset protection

Establishing a living trust involves the following steps:

  1. Enumerating assets
  2. Deciding on the type of trust desired
  3. Selecting a trustee
  4. Constructing the trust document
  5. Signing the trust document

By including a living trust in your estate plan, you can streamline the administration of your estate and ensure your assets are protected.

Durable Power of Attorney: Financial and Health Care

A durable power of attorney is an essential component of a modern estate plan, granting a trusted individual the authority to act on your behalf in regards to financial matters and healthcare decisions if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. In Wisconsin, not having a durable power of attorney can lead to the need for a costly guardianship and court hearing.

Including durable powers of attorney for both financial and healthcare decisions in your estate plan ensures that your wishes are respected and decisions are made in your best interest, even if you are incapacitated.

Estate planning in Wisconsin

Ensuring Access to Digital Assets

In today’s digital world, it is essential to include provisions for digital assets and personal property in your estate plan. Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts, digital property, and virtual assets, such as:

  • email and social media accounts
  • online banking and investment accounts
  • cryptocurrency
  • domain names
  • digital photos and videos
  • other digital files

Providing clear instructions and access to your digital assets in your estate plan ensures that your online presence and digital identity are managed and preserved according to your wishes. Additionally, this will enable your family to access and manage your digital accounts and files as you would have wished.

Protecting Your Interests: Avoiding Undue Influence Claims

To safeguard your estate plan from potential undue influence claims, establishing clear documentation, communicating with relevant family members, and involving a qualified attorney is recommended. By taking these steps, you can safeguard your wishes and ensure that your estate plan remains legally sound and effective.

Undue influence is defined as the exertion of pressure on the testator to alter their will. By addressing this risk and taking measures to protect your interests, you can prevent disputes and misunderstandings, ensuring that your estate plan accurately reflects your intentions.

Establishing Clear Documentation

Clear documentation is essential in protecting your estate plan from challenges and ensuring your wishes are respected. Accurate documentation in estate planning safeguards against potential legal disagreements by:

  • Specifying clear directives
  • Confirming validity
  • Confirming compliance with legal regulations
  • Demonstrating intent.

For clear documentation of real property deeds and other aspects of your estate plan, establishing a legally sound plan and ensuring that all relevant documentation is properly prepared and executed is necessary. By focusing on accurate documentation, you can protect your estate plan and prevent potential disputes.

Communicating with Family Members

Maintaining open communication with family members is key to avoiding misunderstandings and disputes related to your estate plan. By discussing your intentions and plans with your loved ones, you can foster a proactive dialogue and promote transparency.

It is crucial to involve family members in the estate planning process, providing them with the opportunity to voice their desires or concerns, and allowing for feedback. By fostering open communication, you can ensure that your family understands your wishes and intentions, reducing the likelihood of conflicts and disputes.

The Role of an Attorney in Safeguarding Your Wishes

Including an attorney in the estate planning process offers several benefits:

  • Safeguarding your wishes
  • Ensuring your plan is legally sound
  • Analyzing assets
  • Drafting necessary documents
  • Implementing your wishes in accordance with the law

By engaging a professional estate planning service, you can benefit from:

  • Specialized knowledge
  • Legal security
  • Up-to-date documents
  • Circumventing probate
  • Assurance

An attorney can also help address any concerns or disputes that may arise, ensuring that your estate plan remains effective and in line with your wishes.


Understanding the key changes to Wisconsin estate planning in 2024 is essential in protecting your wealth and legacy. By staying informed, adapting your strategies, and utilizing available resources and tools, you can create a comprehensive and effective estate plan that reflects your unique needs and circumstances. Don’t leave your legacy to chance; take control of your future by planning today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, an executor is expected to settle an estate within 18 months, though some counties require completion within 12 months. Executors should strive to finish the probate process within that timeline.

What happens to an irrevocable trust when the grantor dies in Wisconsin?

Upon the death of the grantor in Wisconsin, an irrevocable trust will become “active” and avoid taxes and probate proceedings. The trust's assets will be passed to a trustee to manage and the grantor will no longer retain ownership.

Can an irrevocable trust be terminated in Wisconsin?

Yes, an irrevocable trust can be terminated in Wisconsin if all beneficiaries agree and if the court decides that it is no longer necessary to maintain the trust.

What is the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust in Wisconsin?

A revocable trust in Wisconsin can be altered or revoked at any time, whereas an irrevocable trust is legally binding and cannot be changed during the lifetime of the settlor. Once property is transferred to an irrevocable trust, it cannot be retrieved.

How do I avoid probate in Wisconsin?

To avoid probate in Wisconsin, create a Living Trust, name beneficiaries, designate a Power of Attorney, transfer-on-death deeds and use joint property ownership. Additionally, explore small estates to bypass the probate process.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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