Hostak, Henzl & Bichler
840 Lake Avenue, Suite 300Racine, WI 53403
Phone: 262-632-7541

Estate & Tax Planning

In guiding you through the estate planning process, we bring our deep experience and expertise to the table to help you visualize the potential “what ifs” that you may not have considered. We listen carefully to your concerns and goals before recommending what steps to take. We tailor the tools we have developed to your particular needs.

Articles On Estate Planning
Wills and Trusts
Other Estate Planning Tools
Advanced Tax and Other Planning
Advanced Charitable Planning
Business Succession
Probate and Other Post Death Administration

Articles On Estate Planning

As estate planning attorneys, we have developed a unique, user-friendly process called The Family Vision Experience. We help you create and implement a vision to enrich and empower your family and to build a legacy for future generations…Read More

The Family Vision Snapshot/Timeline

Explanation of Concept The goal is to create a simple tracking tool to avoid losing sight of the big picture. Think horizontal timeline, with hash marks representing various points in time. At certain intervals which you select, you enter the date, draw a line up from the date, and enter a few notations about the.. Read More

Protecting a Child (or Grandchild) in the Event of Divorce

In a hypothetical case, imagine that a married couple has a 25-year-old son living in Wisconsin. The son has a girlfriend and is in a stable relationship with her. Marriage is not on the immediate horizon. The girlfriend has career aspirations that could require significant investment. She also has significant student loans. From the perspective.. Read More

Perspective on Estate Taxes for Wisconsin Residents

In 1976, the lifetime exemption from Federal estate taxes was $60,000. By 1987 the exemption was $600,000. By the time President George W. Bush had taken office, it was scheduled to increase to $1 million by 2006, but in the summer of 2001, Congress enacted scheduled increases in the exemption to $3,500,000 by 2009. That..Read More


Wills & Trusts

Many clients can handle their estate planning needs in economical fashion with a will. Wills (called “pour over wills”) are also used in conjunction with revocable trusts.

Increasingly we use revocable (living) trusts as the main engine of estate planning, and we always use them in the case of larger estates. We are experienced with their creation and their “funding,” and we work closely with the client´s other advisors to ensure effective coordination.


Other Estate Planning Tools

We never create a will or trust for a client without also considering other tools which we routinely use to help the clients maximize their control over their unique situation.

Here are some of the tools we most commonly use:

Durable powers of attorney

To empower someone else to act on your behalf in financial and similar matters, particularly if you are incapacitated.

Health care powers of attorney

To empower someone else to make health care decisions for you, including end of life decisions, if your doctor has certified that you are unable to communicate your desires.

Marital Property Agreements
(pre-nuptial and post-nuptial)

For married couples with larger estates, these agreements are almost mandatory in order for them to effectively position their estate from an optimal tax perspective. In this context they are used to classify ownership of property and even arrange for avoiding probate at death, even in long term marriages.

They are also used in a completely different way by couples in anticipation of marriage, especially for second marriages or when one person comes into a marriage with significantly more assets than the other.

Disposition of Remains

Wisconsin has a new law allowing clients to sign a binding designation of who shall be empowered to dispose of a client´s remains and making specific provisions for their disposition, if desired.


Advanced Tax and Other Planning

Multi-Trust Provisions

Where appropriate, we help clients create trusts that divide into “A” and “B” trusts when one spouse dies, as a strategy to avoid wasting that spouse´s ability to leave a certain amount of property free of estate taxes.

Total Return Trusts

Often the traditional trust which provides income to a person for life, with principal restricted, can create adverse investment incentives. The modern total return trust approach can put the income beneficiary and the remainder beneficiary on the same page when it comes to seeking optimal investment strategies from the trustee and providing the ideal safety net for the “income” beneficiary.

Family Limited Partnerships

Are often used for family wealth planning and taking advantage of valuation discounts.

Life Insurance Trusts

A common and simple way to reduce estate taxes and protect a surviving spouse.

Generation-Skipping Trusts

Are an increasingly common technique to (a) reduce estate taxes when your children die and (b) reduce the likelihood that an unanticipated divorce or bankruptcy of a child would result in dissipation of the child´s inheritance from you.

Lifetime Gifts

This and other long range planning can be used to dramatically reduce exposure to estate tax by maximizing the otherwise wasted annual exclusions from gift taxes (allowing wealth to transfer tax free). One tool we recently created in The Family Vision Experience’s unique process is The Below the Line Trust.


Advanced Charitable Planning

Charitable Remainder Trusts

Are a common technique, either during your lifetime or as a component of your trust, to provide a lifetime income stream to you (and your spouse) or to someone else (such as your friend or your child), with the remainder passing to one or more charities of your choice. If you create it to run for your lifetime, you can even reserve the right to change your mind as to which charity(ies) receive the balance at your death.

Designating the Right Asset to Pass to Charity at Your Death

Most people don´t realize that their will is the last place they should be inserting a gift to charity.

Family Foundations and Creating Funds within a Community Foundation

We have extensive experience creating many different, unique funds with community foundations to help you, as philanthropist, create a fund which accomplishes precisely your long term goals, and we can show you how to make the fund continue for countless generations. Private foundations, both in the form of corporations with boards of directors and in the form of perpetual charitable trusts, are tools that we have used to benefit many clients and their causes.


Estate Business Succession

Management Succession

A discrete concern in which business clients may expect our input, separate from the ownership succession.

Ownership Succession

begins with our learning to know the business client and truly understand its goals and ways of operation. Only then can we help the participants understand the component parts of a sound stock transfer agreement (corporations) or similar buy-sell agreement (as a component part of a partnership agreement or limited liability company (LLC) operating agreement).


Probate & Other Post Death Administration

Transfer of property at death, even under a will, does not necessarily require a full probate. Often other, more summary court procedures allow us to help the client minimize the time and cost. In other cases, where clients have used revocable (living) trusts and followed our instructions, there is no probate, but what is still to be done (for example, closing out the trust and filing final tax returns) has to have a name, so we call it “post-death administration,” and if there is other on-going work (continuing trust, for instance) we call this work “trust administration.”