Estate what?!?

Some of you may have met Attorney Heather Hazelwood at the sale, talking to families about the importance of Estate Planning.  We invited her to write a post because we think it’s a topic that a lot of people don’t want to talk about, and thought that we all might benefit from hearing some of her thoughts-  We’re also excited that she has a new Facebook page to help keep us up to date on important legal issues important to families!

“Am I dying?” That’s how a friend responded to me a few months ago when I asked her if she’d like me to write her will. We both laughed because, thankfully, she was (and still is) in great health, but at that moment I realized how silly writing a will can seem to people who view themselves as being young and in good health. And, perhaps you are like my friend and think that writing a will and sitting down with an attorney to talk about estate planning (a blanket term that covers everything from wills, trusts, powers of attorney, beneficiary designations, and beyond) are things only old, rich, and/or sick people need to do.

And while there are many good reasons for those people (the old, the rich, and/or the sick) to take care of their estate planning, there are also plenty of good reasons for you to take care of yours – regardless of your age, income, and health. And, contrary to popular belief – estate planning isn’t just about what happens when you die. Here’s just a handful of the many things estate planning allows you to do:

Formally name a legal guardian for your child(ren)

  • Establish a family trust to provide for your child(ren), spouse, and/or aging parents
  • Ensure that your remaining assets don’t have to go through a probate court proceeding
  • Provide direction on how you want health care decisions to be made about you if you can’t make them for yourself
  • Give authority to another person to access your financial accounts if needed
  • Create a marital property agreement regarding the ownership of you and your spouse’s property
  • Give your loved ones the legal authority to actually carry out your wishes
  • Communicate your wishes on whether you want to be buried or cremated and what type of funeral or memorial service you’d prefer
  • Have peace of mind that it’s all settled and if the unexpected occurs, you have left a clear road map of what you want to happen and who you want to take care of it for you

Now, I know what you are likely thinking, “it would be too expensive to work with an attorney to get a will.” While I don’t know what other firms charge, I can tell you – we price our estate planning services as a package (including a will with or without trust provisions, powers of attorney for finances and health care, HIPAA release authority, declaration to physicians / “Wisconsin Living Will,” and authorization for final disposition, plus review of how your various beneficiary designations, and other documents/work as needed). Prices range between $600-1,300 per person and most bills end up under $1,000. Not free, I understand, but maybe not as expensive as you thought?

So, maybe now you are thinking about how you are too busy to deal with taking care of any of this. I am certain your schedule is plenty busy, but this entire process only takes 3-6 weeks. It requires only 2 in-person meetings and neither of them should last more than an hour. And, whether you are in a rush or need to take this process very slowly, we will do our best to match our timeline to yours.

And now we’ve come to the part of our conversation where you say, “fine, maybe you are right, but if I really need one of those documents, I’ll just use an online form.” I can’t deny that there are online forms out there at bargain prices. But here are my main concerns – they aren’t necessarily up-to-date for Wisconsin laws, and, they certainly aren’t tailored to your particular needs and circumstances.

“But, Heather,” you might say, “it’s not any of that; it’s that it’s too awful to think about what would happen to my family if I’m gone.” I totally respect that feeling. These aren’t easy topics. But, I can assure you that thinking about these things now can save you, your family, and your close friends a lot of stress and heartache later. Plus, part of my job is to make this as easy as possible on clients. And, you won’t believe how relieved you will feel when it’s all done.

My offer to you is this – Half-Pint Shoppers are invited for a complimentary estate planning initial consultation with me, Attorney Heather Hazelwood of Hurley, Burish & Stanton, S.C.

More about me – I am an associate attorney specializing in personal and business services, focusing on estate planning, family law, Guardian ad Litem appointments, and small business and non-profit organization and management.  One of my passions is working with clients to help them plan for the future and manage life’s transitions. Before law school, I worked in the non-profit community and have lived in or around Madison for most of my adult life.

And, about my firm – Hurley, Burish & Stanton, S.C. is dedicated to providing clients with the comprehensive and thorough work usually expected of large firms while maintaining the personal working relationships and cost-effectiveness associated with smaller firms. The firm handles all types of estate planning. In addition, the firm is highly regarded for its family law, business law, litigation, and criminal law work.  Thus, the firm represents a wide variety of individual and business clientele, including those with substantial wealth as well as those with modest means.

Still not sure? You are welcome to contact Lisa Seidel (one of the co-owners of Half-Pint Resale) who is working with me to do her family’s estate planning.  ((You contact her at

Now you’re sure? Great! Contact us!   I look forward to hearing from you!

Attorney Heather Hazelwood
Hurley, Burish & Stanton, S.C.
33 East Main Street #400
P.O. Box 1528
Madison, WI 53701-1528
Phone: (608) 257-0945