Avoiding Probate in Madison WI

Posted on: January 31st, 2016 by hansonmanzo

Preventing probate should not be a problem. There are simplified yet efficient ways to make sure that all or most of your estate is directly granted to your heirs to avoid the difficulties of probate court.

Advantages of a living trust

Living trusts were created to put a stop on probate. The upside of putting your important property in a trust fund is that upon your passing, the trust property is not a probate estate. However, it is considered federally taxable because the trustee owns the property instead of you. After your death, the trustee can conveniently handover the trust property to the recipients you have choose, without probate involved. Similar to a will, you may list your family or friends you wish to have included in the trust document.

Payable upon death funds

You can also allocate your bank and retirement blances to payable-on-death funds. You can easily designate a beneficiary by completing a simple form. Instead of going through the probate process the money will go straight to your beneficiary when you die. A few states also permit transfer-on-death real estate property that allow you to assign your property with a deed that will not get carried out until your death.

Property with joint ownership

Three types of joint ownership offer a trouble-free process to sidestep probate when the original owner dies. To share a title with another person in a way that prevents probate, you document that you are the owner and how you wish to designate the title. Typically, no more documentation is necessary. With the death of either owner, the property gets handed to the other joint owner without probate.

You can avoid probate by owning property as follows:

  • Joint tenancy with right of survivorship. When one owner dies assets are transferred to the joint owner immediately, without probate.
  • Tenancy by entirety. Some states may allow married couples to own a title as a “tenancy by the entirety” rather than joint tenancy. Entitlement to the other partner is similar to joint tenancy but is allowed strictly to a married couple or by same-sex partners in states that allow same sex registration. Probate can be avoided in exactly the same manner as joint ownership.
  • Community property with right of survivorship. If you live or have property in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Texas or Wisconsin, another way to jointly own property with your spouse is an option to allow community property with the right of survivorship. If you own property in this way, when one spouse dies the other spouse automatically owns the property.

Gifting your property

Gifting while you are living allows a simple shortcut that is easy to understand. If you do not own the assets when you die, there is no probate needed. Generally, gifting reduces probate because the more the more the property is worth, the higher the expenses of probate. Also most in most cases gifts are not taxable.


Simplifying for small estates

Currently, nearly every state allows simple ways to eliminate probate or avoid it entirely if the estate is considered small. The definition of small varies by state. At Hanson and Manzo, we can help with wills, probate and estate planning. Call us today at 608-831-2529 to set up an appointment.

Going through a friendly divorce in Madison WI

Posted on: January 21st, 2016 by hansonmanzo

Unfortunately, in life some marriages don’t work out. Many Madison residents encounter divorce in their lifetime. A kind temperament, though, may improve a divorcing couple’s chances of avoiding conflict and hostility during the divorce process. When a couple can settle their differences in an open-minded manner, and agree to work together jointly, it helps them to have a more friendly separation.

Maintain a Positive Parental Role

Being respectful and considerate throughout the course of the divorce process is very important if children are included. How their parents behave toward each while they part their ways will have an emotional impact on children that can last throughout a parent’s lifetime. Remember, they are still parents in spite of everything. Therefore, parents have a responsibility to be role models for their children and must keep that in mind throughout the divorce at all times.

Respect Goes A Long Way Even Without Children

Needless to say, couples without children will also benefit by remaining amicable during their divorce. Setting a goal so that each party will receive fair treatment during the divorce process helps the couple regard one other with much needed respect. Respect can outlive a romantic relationship and is a distinguishing factor in other relationships they have. Also, distributing property in a reasonable manner keeps both parties from becoming spiteful or petty.

Reduce Conflict

For many Wisconsin couples who are going through a divorce, mediation can be a key to ensure that each party is treated equally. A mediator can assist couples to work together as a team to settle any problems that may seem impossible in the beginning. Divorce mediation can also give couples the feeling that they are in charge. When they wait for a judge’s ruling, they won’t have the privilege of choosing solutions that in their best interest. Divorce mediation can also alleviate conflict in court that can be emotionally and financially exhausting.

To make your divorce run as smoothly as possible, contact a divorce and family attorney at Hanson and Manzo in Madison, WI today at 608-831-2529 to discuss how to achieve a friendly divorce.

Family Tax Credits Can Be Financial Lifesavers

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by hansonmanzo

When your children are growing you undoubtedly have many expenses. On the positive side, quite a few of those costs can be used as benefits that can lead to plenty of savings on your annual taxes.
Keep reading to learn more about which credits, exemptions and deductions to take advantage of when you file your taxes.

Dependency Exemption

You’re not allowed to deduct actual amounts you spend on essentials for your dependents, such as housing, food or clothes. You can, however, substantially lower your taxes with a standard dependency deduction. It reduces your gross in the same manner that an itemized deduction would.

Usually, you can list one exemption for each child or dependent who meets IRS criteria. This year, each dependent will bring down your 2015 taxable income by approximately $4,000. If you added a new member to your family you should claim the dependency deduction. Whether the addition arrived in January of 2015 or the last day in December, you can still take advantage of the deduction.

Childcare and Dependent Tax Deduction

A great tax benefit for plenty of families is the child and dependent care credit.
If you hired someone to care for your child or any qualified dependent while you were employed or job seeking, you may be eligible to deduct your expenses by up to 35 percent for each dependent up to $2,100. The percentage is adjusted by gross income totals. You can use this credit until your child is 13 or for longer in other cases with mental and physical handicaps. The child must reside with you for at least six months.

Many employers provide workers with an opportunity to contribute to a flexible dependent care spending account. The employee’s contribution is pre-tax, which adds to savings.

Child Tax Credit

You could be eligible for a child tax credit until your dependent turns 17. The deduction decreases as income increases. This credit can actually be applied to a refund though, if the credit amount is greater than your taxes owed.

EIC or Earned Income Credit

The earned income credit is a great help to working families in the low to moderate income range. It is also a refundable credit aimed at filers who need extra financial assistance to meet living expenses. In some cases the family will receive a refund even if no incometaxes were withheld. The credit is based a detailed breakdown of gross income level and family size.

Adoption Expenses

If you incurred adoption expenses in 2015, there is a generous credit that matches 100 percent of authorized expense up to $13,400 in 2015. If your gross income exceeds $200,000 the credit is adjusted and if goes over $240,000 you are not eligible for this deduction.

Head of Household Category

There is no calculated exemption for this status, but it still saves you tax dollars. File for the head of household benefit if you have a dependent and you provide for over half of their living expenses. You may be entitled to this status even if you don’t file for the dependency exemption.
There is also a Qualifying Widower status if your spouse died in 2014 and you still have dependent children residing with you. Either filing status will reduce your taxes. If you’re single, you belong in the single filing status.

Education Tax Deduction

When your children go college they cost even more! Education tax deductions can be a major relief. You can file for the American Opportunity Credit for the initial $2,000 that goes towards tuitions, books and other fees for any family member, including yourself or spouse.

The credit also grants you 25% of the following 25 percent of expenses. When added up, you may get a total $2,500 for each student. This credit is available for four years of undergraduate programming. If your income is too high for the American Opportunity Credit, you would most likely qualify for the Lifetime Learning Tax credit. You can claim 20 percent of your tuition and related fees up to $10,000, meaning the maximum deduction is $2,000.

At Hanson and Manzo we provide excellent family and tax legal services. We have the legal expertise and experience that will work in your favor. Contact us today (608) 831-2529 for more valuable advice.

Understanding Contingency Fees

Posted on: January 3rd, 2016 by hansonmanzo

Quite often, people have concerns about hiring a lawyer because of the costs involved. What happens if you are not able to pay for professional legal services? Do you have any other options if you cannot pay for retaining an attorney? Contingency fees are available for this reason. With a contingency plan you and your lawyer agree that legal charges are only applied if you win your lawsuit. Information on contingency fees will help you understand some facts about this payment option.

Contingency fees and how they work

If you have incurred medical costs, income loss or other damages you will want to sue the responsible party. Some victims don’t have a way to pay an attorney though. Generally, personal injury lawyers work with a contingency agreement. If a lawyer handles your case with a contingency plan he or she will not charge any legal fees unless you win your case. If you win, the attorney gets paid a percentage of the amount you are awarded.

A contingency arrangement and percentage fees

When the client and attorney establish a contingency fee arrangement, they usually document a contract with a fee agreement. The contract serves an agreement which determines conditions of the contingency fee. The arrangement will typically confirm that the attorney is authorized to receive a certain percentage of the amount the victim is awarded from the case. The attorney will then charge that percent. The specific percentage varies from state to state or lawyer to layer but in most cases it is 30%.

If you settle on $100,000, for example, your attorney will be paid $30,000 or 30% if the contingency agreement settles on that percentage. You would then get 70%, or $70,000.

Contingency expenses

You should understand that there might be additional fees involving your lawsuit, even though a contingency agreement is in place. As an example, some lawyers charge the client for legal expenses such as filing fees, travel expenses or other case related expenses.

When you discuss attorney fees at your initial consultation, you should agree on a detailed fee agreement between the two of you. It’s important that the terms of the arrangement are as clear as possible, such as how much your attorney will be paid if you win, and any costs you’ll be expected to pay, if any.

If you are in an accident in Madison, WI it is important to speak to an experienced and reliable personal injury attorney at Hanson and Manzo to determine if you have a case and an amount that you should you should receive for your damages.

Contact our family law firm Hanson and Manzo in Madison, WI at 608-831-2529 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable family law lawyer.

Developing a Co-Parenting Agreement

Posted on: August 10th, 2015 by hansonmanzo 1 Comment

Emotions run considerably high during a divorce. Sometimes there is the tendency to avoid all contact with your ex-spouse seems convincing. If you are part of a family with children, though, it will be necessary to maintain communications for years so that your children receive all the love, attentiveness, support and attention they should have.

Quite a few family law specialists advocate implementing a documented co-parenting agreement when divorcing parents will both take part in parenting even though they no longer are married or live together. With a co-parenting agreement, you make arrangements that primarily benefit the child or children of offer them security and consistency they need to grow and flourish as healthy individuals.

Because each Wisconsin family is unique, every co-parenting agreement is also unique. Many co-parenting agreements, however, will likely focus on these basic topics:

  • The schedule the parents will maintain so that each parent is permitted time with the child.
  • Designating where the child will be during holidays and school breaks.
  • Settling on a method to make crucial decisions associated with child, such as medical issues, schooling and religion.
  • How the parents will manage finances for the child.
  • A way parents can resolve disagreements and revise the agreement without appearing in court.
  • It is essential to take advantage of legal services from an attorney that specializes in family law if you have any complications or questions creating a parenting plan. You can be assured to get the necessary support and guidance you will need to put together a beneficial and workable plan for the children.

You can count on Hanson and Manzo Attorneys at Law for expert advice on divorce issues. Contact our firm today at (608) 831-2529 to set up an appointment.

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