CAN ESTATE PLANNING HELP AVOID PROBATE? WHERE DO A DECEDENT’S ASSETS GO AFTER DEATH?

Common Methods to Pass Assets so as to Avoid Probate

    1. Beneficiary Designation Forms.

Life Insurance, IRA and pension plans, bank accounts, and stock brokerage accounts may all be passed at time of death if there is a written beneficiary form on file with the institution holding the assets. Insurance companies, IRA funds, pension funds, banks, and stock brokerage companies all have their own beneficiary designation forms to fill out.

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WHO PAYS FOR MEDICAL BILLS IF I AM IN AN ACCIDENT AND IT WAS NOT MY FAULT?

When you are in an accident and you are not at-fault, it can be very frustrating to get medical bills in the mail for the treatment you have received for your accident-related injuries.

“This wasn’t my fault! Why do I have to pay anything?”

We hear this question frequently. Despite what people think would be most fair, the at-fault insurance company almost never pays a victim’s medical bills up-front. If you have been injured in an accident and you were not at-fault, there is often coverage for your medical bills aside from the at-fault insurance that may be available.

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WHAT IS A “PHANTOM MOTOR VEHICLE?”

Single-car accidents are not always the fault of the driver of a crashed vehicle. Often, these accidents occur due to “miss and runs.” A miss and run occurs when another driver comes into your lane or otherwise runs you off the road without making physical contact with your vehicle. Often, these “miss and run” offenders continue driving because their vehicle was not involved in the crash. Because the “miss and run” vehicle disappears, it is referred to under Wisconsin law as a “Phantom Motor Vehicle.” This type of accident can leave you with serious damage and injuries but with no driver or insurance company to hold responsible.

Fortunately, your uninsured coverage through your auto insurance policy can reimburse you for your losses if you are the victim of a miss-and-run accident. Unfortunately, the law setting out the requirements to qualify for such coverage became significantly stricter in 2011 after Governor Walker’s repeal of the “Truth in Automobile” law.

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WHAT TYPE OF INSURANCE COVERAGES CAN PLAY A ROLE IN MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE?

After establishing your right to recover, the next step is to determine if there are insurance companies that are liable for payment of your damages. At times, more than one insurance company may be liable. If the at-fault party carried no insurance, there may be other parties with a legal relationship to the at-fault party who have insurance.

The laws pertaining to insurance coverages and the right of insurance companies to be reimbursed (“subrogation”) can be quite complex. There are times when liability insurance companies rightfully or wrongfully deny that their insurance policies will cover negligent parties. There are also times when your own insurance company may rightfully or wrongfully deny that your insurance policy will cover your claims.

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IS AUTO INSURANCE MANDATORY, AND WHAT TYPE OF COVERAGE IS REQUIRED?

Since 2009, Wisconsin insurance laws have fluctuated. In 2009, the “Truth in Automobile Insurance” law was passed, instituting sweeping changes to Wisconsin insurance laws. However, almost all of the “Truth in Auto” changes were repealed in 2010. Below is a chart that may help consumers understand Wisconsin’s current insurance laws as compared to what the laws used to be.

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ARE THERE CHARGES FOR GETTING COPIES OF MY MEDICAL RECORDS?

Almost always, yes.

Health care providers must abide by the “Schedule of Health Care Provider Records Fees” if they choose to charge a patient, or a person authorized by the patient, for copies of the patient’s medical records.

Pursuant to section 146.83(3f)(c)2., each July 1, the Department of Health Services is required to adjust the dollar amounts specified under section 146.83(3f)(b) that a health care provider may charge for providing copies of a patient’s health care records.

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