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Questions Answered by Thomas B. Burton
1 Answer | Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: I recently purchased a plot of land. It was listed with electric / sewer and lateral into lot.

Our builder just verified with the village that there is no sewer available and we will need a septic, Can I sue the seller to cover the cost of a perk test and septic system?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 12, 2019

Check the Vacant Land Disclosure Report provided to you by the Seller and see if they listed sewer and septic available in the Seller's Vacant Land Disclosure Report. It should be listed on page 5, under item F(6) of the new Vacant Land Disclosure Report that went into use last year. If they listed... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: Estate/Probate question. See below

My brother passed away unexpectedly a few days ago. He was in the process of completing a will but did not

complete it. He has two (2) estranged children. I does have assets (condominium/car). He made it known that he wanted me to handle all of his affairs in the event of his death and... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 9, 2019

I am sorry to hear about your brother's passing. Unfortunately, if he did not complete and sign the Will before two disinterested witnesses, it will not be valid in the State of Wisconsin. Based on the facts above, it sounds likely he died "intestate" meaning his assets will pass according to his... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: My husband has passed away, and both our names are on the mortgage. What do I have to do next?
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 4, 2019

You should speak with an attorney who can examine the deed and help you file a form with the Register of Deeds that will remove your husband's name from the title, if the title was held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, or as husband and wife as survivorship marital property. If you... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Banking, Contracts, Consumer Law and Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Home purchase: Can another person/name be added to title at closing?

Buying house, he is on the loan and I am not. The bank just said I cannot be put on the title because we are not married? Is this law or policy? Thank you!

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 4, 2019

If two parties are not legally married, I do not recommend jointly owning property with someone who is also not liable for the mortgage on the property. Once you are married, your husband can add you to the title, if he wishes via deed. In Wisconsin we have a special form of ownership where married... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: The landowner beside of us is having their pines timbered and the workers cut about half an acre of our pines and has

The company timbering the line trees has cut about half an acre of our pine trees (roughly 150 pines) even though the trees and boundaries were clearly marked. After speaking with the owner and setting up a day to discuss this, he knowingly sent his workers back on our property to collect all the... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 1, 2019

Hello, I am sorry to hear this happened to you. You posted in the Real Estate Law forum for Wisconsin. It is possible that you live in Wisconsin, however if this property damage occurred in Carrol County, Virginia, you are going to need to find a lawyer licensed in Virginia to help you. I suggest... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Foreclosure, Real Estate Law, Tax Law and Municipal Law for Wisconsin on
Q: What would total be on property tax bill w/interest for 8 yrs. on 11hundred a yr not paid (1% mo 12% yr) Vernon Cty, WI

If I hadn't been able to pay my property taxes for 8 yrs (and assuming they haven't foreclosed), at $1,100 a yr, what would the total bill be at the end of 8 years, with interest at 1% a month and 12% a year, in Vernon County WI.?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 25, 2019

It will depend on exactly how they calculate the interest, if it is compounded monthly or annually, this will make a difference in the total owed. I would contact the Treasurer's office in Vernon County and ask them for a copy of the tax statements on the back taxes owed. They should be able to get... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: My Brother and I inherited my parent's cottage in Northern Wisconsin via an irrevocable trust.

Is it really necessary to hire a real estate attorney to title the property in our name or can we just contact the clerk and have it done on our own? The title is clean and the property has been in the family for 43 years.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 22, 2019

The clerk's office will not be able to assist you with transferring the property. They can give general information, but not legal advice, so they will likely direct you to a lawyer. The terms of the irrevocable trust will determine what steps need to be taken to transfer the property from the... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: If my father said in his will I am to be paid first payment of a trust before 12/31/19 of the year of his death?

Is the above upheld regardless of when probate ends?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 18, 2019

If the trust was created by the Will, such as a testamentary trust created inside his Will, then the trust may not come into effect until the probate has finished. It depends on the wording of the Will. If the Trust was created on its own, outside the Will, then the Trust should not have to go... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Can power of attorney list themselves as beneficiary on life insurance policy? Is the law different depending on state?

The life insurance policy currently has no beneficiaries listed

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 12, 2019

If the power of attorney document authorizes the Agent to make changes to beneficiary designations, and if it does not prohibit the Agent from listing themselves as a beneficiary, then it is likely they can list themselves as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. The context is important here... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: When the seller rejects an amendment, what happens?

What right does the seller still have? Recently we rejected an amendment, buyer is now threatening court, closing, or cash to end this problem. I would like to know what we can do legally.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Oct 22, 2019

In general, a Seller has no legal obligation to accept an amendment the Buyer may offer, after the terms of the Offer to Purchase have been agreed to. The Seller's obligation is only the terms of the original Offer to Purchase signed by both parties. The Buyer may have other legal remedies based on... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Wisconsin on
Q: I am disabled per Social Security, own a home with my mother - tenants in common, and we want to sell it.

She has been in nursing home since April, on medicaid since May,

and plan to move back to CA after the house is sold. Will this cause any problems with medicaid?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Oct 14, 2019

If your Mother is currently receiving Medicaid benefits, you should examine the Medicaid application she submitted when she first qualified for Medicaid. The application should list the home in which she owns an interest as a tenant in common. If you and your Mother own it together and if your... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: Can an estate be divided by children and living spouse through probate if there was no will?

My mother passed away and my father is mentally disabled (he does not have a guardian, us kids have been taking care of him). The only asset she had was the house. The house is in both of their names. I am wondering if it is possible to for the estate to be divided up by us three kids and my father... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Sep 27, 2019

I agree with Attorney Whitehurst you should first examine how title is held on the deed. If it is held as husband and wife as marital property, then your Father would inherit the home entirely without probate upon your Mother's death. If your Mother passed away without a Will, her estate will be... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Am I obligated to purchase a property if it fails sewer and well inspection even if they agree to fix it?

The down payment has been made and the sale was contingent on sewer and well, and we no longer want it

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Sep 23, 2019

This will depend on how the wording of the contract (the Offer to Purchase) was put together. If you said that the purchase is contingent on a sewer and water inspection, this is good. It now depends on if you wrote in that you have the right to rescind the contract if the inspection shows... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Products Liability for Wisconsin on
Q: I own a house in Oconto County, WI. I want to add my fiance to the deed. He has bad credit. Ramifications?

Can a lien be placed on my property because of his bad debt? He is not on the mortgage.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Sep 3, 2019

I agree with Attorney Gallo, if you add your fiance to the deed of your property, then you are granting him an ownership interest in the property. This means if your fiance has creditors seeking to collect against him, they could potentially seek recovery against your property by placing a lien on... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: My father owns land in Puerto Rico penulas. He has the deed I believe and wants to pass the land to myself and child.

Can he write a will to do so or would we need to transfer the deed?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 29, 2019

Is your father currently living in Wisconsin or in Puerto Rico? If he is living in Wisconsin, he can execute a Will that leaves the land to you at death. However, upon his death, this will require you to open two probates, one in Wisconsin for his Wisconsin property and a probate action in Puerto... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Is it a law in WI to sell others property without a real estate license and what can be the outcome if caught?

What is the fine or jail time per occurrence? Is it a felony?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 21, 2019

Wis. Stat. 452.17 provides the penalties for selling real estate without a license and reads as follows:

452.17  Penalties.

(1)  Any person who engages in or follows the business or occupation of, or advertises or holds himself or herself out as or acts temporarily or otherwise...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Can you separate ownership of house and land with deed and title documents? Is there another process?

Wisconsin lot with home.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 14, 2019

In Wisconsin, any permanent structure on the land is included with the deed to the ground beneath it. The only exceptions I know of are mobile homes, where a separate title may be issued for the mobile home by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. It depends on whether the mobile home... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Can a WI Realtor force a seller to purchase title ins for new owner? Why can’t new owner purchase their own title ins?

Are the Realtor and/or WI Title Comp supposed to inform seller with details of all closing costs? In my case, my specific closing cost questions weren’t answered.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jul 10, 2019

The standard Wisconsin Offer to Purchase imposes the costs of title insurance on the Seller. So I can tell you this is standard practice in Wisconsin. Realtors are not lawyers, so they are not allowed to draft legal contracts. Instead, they have obtained an exception from the Legislature allowing... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: My mother passed away Nov. 2015. I never received my inheritance can call probate yet

My mother told me that I will will be receiving a parcel land and some cash and the Will

was dated also in 2015

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jun 19, 2019

If there was a Will, it should have been filed with the probate office at the Courthouse in the County in which your Mother resided when she died. If a probate action was opened, it should be listed online in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system. You can go to their website and search using... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: what are the risks to using probate rather than a trust in florida?

My great aunt just passed (she lived and drafted her documents in Florida). her attorney is advising using probate rather than the trust. why do this? what's the point of doing a trust then?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jun 12, 2019

If your Aunt has a properly set up Trust, then the best way to avoid probate is often to have the assets pass through the Trust. I do not know the specifics of this situation, but it is possible that your Aunt set up the Trust but did not properly fund the trust (meaning she didn't transfer her... Read more »

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