eFocus @ Legacy

April 2014

Author: Laurene M. BrooksSenior Trust Advisor

New Wisconsin Trust Code Brings Wisconsin into the 21st Century

There is exciting news for Wisconsin! After more than 40 years, changes are being made to the Wisconsin Trust Code that will make Wisconsin a more attractive place to conduct trust business. Effective July 1, 2014, Wisconsin will become the 27th state to enact its version of the Uniform Trust Code. Trust beneficiaries, trustees and anyone involved with trusts in Wisconsin will benefit from the new legislation.

By enacting this new and exhaustive trust law overhaul, Wisconsin has taken a huge step toward maintaining its reputation as an attractive venue to live and do business, particularly from an estate-planning standpoint. With its version of the Uniform Trust Code, Wisconsin has modernized its laws to better reflect how trusts work and benefit all those involved with trusts. The new changes will mean that:

• Those who create trusts are allowed more flexibility in designing the terms of a trust;
• Trustees will have more flexibility, autonomy and certainty with respect to trust administration;
• The need for court involvement will be greatly diminished.

The law not only illustrates our state's commitment to keeping folks in Wisconsin, it goes a long way toward fostering uniformity among the states, which is good news for our clients who spend considerable time or live outside Wisconsin.

The enactment of the new law doesn't mean there are problems with existing trusts or that changes need to be made to estate plans that include trusts. However, if it has been over three years since you've reviewed your estate plan, or your estate or personal situation has changed recently, you may want to take some action in the near future. Legacy has several Trust Advisors who can help you determine whether a visit with your attorney is warranted.

On a final note, I'd like to acknowledge the seven years of hard work by a dedicated committee of Wisconsin trust and estate lawyers, elder law lawyers, and bank and trust company personnel who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this new law a reality. As a nine-year member of the Wisconsin State Bar's Real Property, Probate and Trust Law (RPPT) Section Board and its current chair, I witnessed the efforts and patience of the committee, which included several members of the RPPT Section. We owe them gratitude for believing in Wisconsin and the work they performed to bring our trust laws into the 21st century.