Volume One

Daneille Strong, Cindy Hangartner • Estate Planning
Crivello, Nichols, & Hall S.C.

Protecting Your Future

Every individual over the age of eighteen should have an estate plan, and the experts at Crivello, Nichols, & Hall S.C. can help.

Daneille Strong & Cindy Hangartner

No one likes to think about how a tragic incident could affect you and your family — but it’s even worse when a life-changing event happens and you’re unprepared. People often think estate planning is only important when you’re near the end of your life, but that’s certainly not the case. Whether you’re a senior citizen, a young parent, or even an eighteen-year-old preparing to leave home for the first time, making sure you have a plan for your assets is of the utmost importance.

The experienced lawyers at Crivello, Nichols, & Hall S.C. are extremely well-versed in these matters and can navigate the intricate world of estate planning with you. While there are documents you can just download and sign, there is much more to consider when discussing who will make decisions for you in the event of death or becoming incapacitated. Three lawyers at the firm, Cindy Hangartner, Tim Johnson, and Daneille Strong, have become a fortified unit at the Eau Claire office, helping families with their estate plans and businesses succession planning.

“Thinking of one’s own mortality is really hard,” Daneille said. “We all have this Superman complex where (we think) nothing bad can happen to us. Estate planning kind of gives you that cape to keep around you. If something bad does happen, then you can still be Superman, protecting your family and maintaining your choices, because you took the time to put your wishes on paper.”

If you’re brand new to the estate planning world — don’t worry — you’re not alone. Only about 46% of adults in America have a will, which is just one of the important aspects of estate planning. If you were to die without proper planning, your estate would distribute your assets to beneficiaries as defined by state law and your voice would be lost. Similarly, if you were to become incapacitated without a Power of Attorney, the state would appoint someone to make your medical, financial, and real estate decisions for you. Estate planning is particularly important for non-traditional families.

Getting started is easier than you might think. According to Daneille and Cindy, your first step should be to talk with someone who regularly practices estate planning, someone you completely trust to guide you in the right direction. This person will be digging through intimate details of your life — from your finances to your family dynamics — and should be someone you can be open and honest with. At Crivello, Nichols, & Hall S.C., you must complete a worksheet that details all of the things you need to think about when getting started in estate planning.

“Our first meeting with new clients typically takes an hour and a half,” Cindy said. “We need to understand your goals, family dynamics, and the types of assets you own. When a family business is involved, fair versus equal distributions need to be considered. We also discuss ways to make your estate plan flexible while minimizing tax impacts.”

Another worry amongst people getting started is the cost of the process. Both Daneille and Cindy have seen firsthand how much more money is spent amongst families trying to go to court and deal with a loved one’s assets or trying to get guardianship over a person who hasn’t named an agent under a Power of Attorney.

“Parents have spent your entire life, trying to protect you and making decisions for you. However, once you hit eighteen, legally, no one can help you unless you have these forms in place,” Daneille said. “Otherwise, you’re on an island and if something happens to you — you become voiceless. You’ve waited your whole life to determine what happens to you, and in an instant, what you want for you can vanish. Having your powers of attorney in place allows you to keep your voice and gives the person you choose authority to act on your behalf.”

No matter your circumstances or assumed asset value, anyone over the age of eighteen should start having these conversations. The experts at Crivello, Nichols, & Hall S.C. know your situation isn’t cookie-cutter and likely can’t be explained by a single document found online. They want to make sure that no matter what happens, your voice is always heard.

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