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Questions Answered by Thomas B. Burton
1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law for Wisconsin on
Q: What does "Responsible Party" mean legally on an assisted living application? Are an elder's children's assets at risk?

Our Wisconsin resident Mom's husband just died and we children are about to place her in assisted living.

She has assets to pay for her care for three years or so and can partial pay (a small pension and social security and veteran's benefits) after that. But if she lives long... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Dec 1, 2020

The meaning of the term "Responsible Party" should be defined by the terms of the contract the Assisted Living Facility is asking you to sign. If it is not defined in the contract, I recommend asking them for the definition before signing and I would be very cautious about signing this... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Consumer Law and Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: Mom passed away June 2020 with only $300 in her checking & a car loan.

She had a car loan that was upside down. It has been repossesed already. The bank is saying we (me & my 2 brothers) will owe the difference of what they get at auction & what she owed. None of us were on the loan with her, it was solely hers. Do we actually have to pay that? Keep in mind... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 18, 2020

The good news about death, is that the debts of the decedent die with them. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Any debts she owed at her death would be owed by her estate. So if she only had $300 total to her name and that is the total amount in her estate, this is the limit of what... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Does a title company have to notify the buyer and seller of a house of any encumbrances they discover prior to closing?

After closing on a home, the county contacted me saying the property lines for the home I just bought are incorrect. After speaking with the county, the title company contacted the county about this issue. However, the title never notified myself or the seller about this issue prior to closing.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 13, 2020

I would carefully examine your title insurance policy on the home to see if the issue was discovered during the title search and discuss this issue with a real estate litigation attorney in your area. The title company should have run a title search before issuing the title insurance. If the issue... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: My brother is providing me with $40,000 down payment to purchase a primary residence.

The amount is intended to be a gift. Would he need to pay taxes on the amount over $15,000 or could this be claimed under the lifetime exemption? If it’s taxable, would agreeing to repay the amount upon sale of the property turn it from a gift to a loan?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 11, 2020

Currently you can gift up to $15,000 per person per year, without filing a federal gift tax return. Therefore, your proposed gift of $40,000 from your brother would be over this amount. He could gift you $15,000 this year and $15,000 in 2021 without filing a gift tax return, or if he is married, he... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: Should I allow my dad to add me to the deed of our family home? What potential liability or risk is involved?

There is still a mortgage and home equity loan on the home along with other debt my dad owes and my husband and I are looking at selling a buying a new home in the next few years.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Nov 11, 2020

I often advise clients not to add their children to the title of their home, because it can inadvertently expose the parent to creditor claims of the child through divorce, bankruptcy or a lawsuit. However, for you, if your Dad adds you to the title to the home, you would immediately become liable... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: How do I get dads house titled in my name when he died in 1988 and I have lived there ever since and taxes come care of

Dad had no will and I have been living there and paying taxes that come in his name in care of me. My brothers and I split everything and i got the house but never got the deed changed and now i am older and need to get it in my name.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Oct 12, 2020

Hello, I think you are going to need to work with a probate attorney, to get the house transferred from your Father's name to your name. If there was a probate when he died, the deed to the house should have been changed at that time. If you inherited the house via deed, there may be a way to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: My son and daughter in law died. DIL had life ins with my son as beneficiary. Does that policy get spllit in the estate?
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Oct 8, 2020

I am sorry for your loss. If your daughter-in-law named your son as the primary beneficiary, then he would receive the proceeds if he survived her. If she named a contingent beneficiary, then that person would receive the assets if your son did not outlive the survival period outlined in the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: I'd like to know how I end the easement on my property.
Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Oct 7, 2020

There is no one answer to this question. Whether you have the ability to end the easement, is going to depend on a variety of factors, including the original language in the document in which the easement was granted. I suggest reviewing the deed with the easement language in it with a qualified... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: Can I sign Wisconsin Power of Attorney documents, as the alternate agent, 9 years after they were drafted?

Power of Attorney documents were drafted for my father, with my sister and I listed as primary and alternate agents. I was living out of state when they were drafted, and didn't sign them, but everyone else did. Also, my address and phone number listed in the documents are not current.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Sep 18, 2020

Hello, I cannot be certain without examining the document completely, but it sounds like you are talking about the line on the document where sometimes the Agent signs to acknowledge that they have been named as Agent (usually somewhere after the principal's signature). I know at my office it... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: My Aunt does not have any children and wants to leave money to me. I have a trust for my children.

She wants to leave the money she has to my trust and not spend more money on one of her own. Can she do this? Can someone leave assets to a trust where they are not the grantor?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Sep 10, 2020

This is a very interesting question. While it might be possible for her to leave a bequest to your trust, for tax reasons, it might not be desirable. I think you should examine carefully what type of assets she wants to leave to the trust, and the language of your own trust with an experienced... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: Is there a form that would allow me to deny any money willed to my children by their grandparents?

Is there a form (like a pre-nup) but a "Post-nup" per say that I could fill out stating I don't want any of my husbands money if he should pass and it should go to our kids?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 26, 2020

If/when your husband passes away you can work with an attorney to complete a disclaimer, and if your children are the next named beneficiaires in the Will or Trust it would go to them. If your husband is still alive, you could have him alter his estate planning documents now to accomplish this... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Can a real estate lawyer help me with rent to own property

The process

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 25, 2020

If you are buying a property on a land contract, I recommend you have it prepared or reviewed by your own attorney before entering into such a contract. Often these types of contracts can favor the drafter (the person preparing the contract) so if you are considering entering such a contract it is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: My dad died 6 years ago & his house is still in his name even though I live in it. How do I get it in my name w/out atty

I have my dad's Will. It names me and both my brothers as the homeowner's in the event of his death. My brother's want to quit claim deed their share to me since I live in the house and need to get it in my name to get homeowner's insurance on it. I was told it has to go through... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Aug 5, 2020

I am sorry to hear about your father's passing. I would suggest either saving up the money to hire an attorney to help you get the house through probate, or attempting to open the probate process on your own. If the real estate has value (presumably it does since you want to get the house into... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: can I reclaim my inheritance if I signed a disclaimer

I signed my inheritance over to my sister to use if she needed more money for my fathers care, she did not need it, can I reclaim it?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jul 31, 2020

I would discuss this question with the attorney handling the estate of your father, or whoever drafted the disclaimer for you to sign in the first place. It is likely it is too late to take back the disclaimer, unless this occurred very recently, however there may be a way for your sister to gift... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Wisconsin on
Q: What is the best way to set things up for if I pass before he does?

I purchased a home before I meet my husband. The deed and loan are in my name only. I would like for things to just go to him so he has a home with our children.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jul 20, 2020

There are a couple of ways you can go about this. Depending on how the title to the deed reads now, you could pass this to your husband via deed, or via your Will or Trust at death. Doing it in your estate plan (Will or Trust) may make sense, because you still have a mortgage on the property, and... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: If a property behind me can be acessed by public waterway, do I still have to give them an easement through my property?

The property next to me is bordered on the east side by a public waterway on county land. They currently access their land from the west through a gravel lane on my property. The old easement recently expired and I was wondering if I have to renew it.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jul 13, 2020

In general, if an easement has expired, there is nothing requiring you to grant a new easement to an adjoining landowner. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that Wis. Stat. 893.33(6) requires property owners to re-record their easement within 40 years of the original grant, or risk losing the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Best way to buy a house with a child

My son was planning on buying a house but was furloughed due to COVID 19 and isn’t able to get financing. My husband and I are going to purchase the house but our son will make all of the payments. We will eventually transfer the house to him. What is the best way to purchase at this time?... Read more »

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jul 13, 2020

If you plan to purchase the home and put your name on the mortgage, I would strongly advise you to purchase the home in your own name. It is not a good idea to purchase property and title it in another person's name, as you will be held responsible for the mortgage if the other person quits... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: Tenants in common transfer without a will

The deed to our family cabin In Wisconsin lists my mom and her deceased brother as tenants in common. He passed away 9 years ago without a will. How do we get his name off the deed?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jun 15, 2020

When a tenant in common passes, their interest in the property passes to that person's estate. If your Mom's brother passed away with no Will, he died what we call "intestate" therefore his property would pass according to the Wisconsin rules for intestate succession in Chapter... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Wisconsin on
Q: My grandmother past away without a valid will. My mother is in an assisted living facility and has a state payee. How

Can I go about getting the money transferred to me and I disburse it to my mother and I without giving it to her payee.

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jun 11, 2020

If your grandmother passed away without a Will, someone is going to have to petition to open a probate case for the Estate in the County in which your grandmother resided at death. Then someone will also have to volunteer to serve as Personal Representative (aka Executor) of the Estate (likely one... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin on
Q: My cousin and I co own our deceased grandparents property. How do I make sure my half goes to my daughter when I die?

We both want our children, not the surviving owner, to inherit our shares. We both (my cousin and I) live in the state of WI and the property is in MI. Does the inheritence info go into our deed or each of our wills?

Thomas B. Burton
Thomas B. Burton answered on Jun 10, 2020

The answer to this question will depend on how title to the real estate is held with your cousin. If you hold it as joint tenants, then the survivor of either of you would inherit the deceased person's interest. However, I think it is more likely that you hold it as tenants in common because... Read more »

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