Halling & Cayo, S.C.


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Your Estate Plan shouldn’t be a burden.
Let us put your mind at ease.



Why is Estate Planning so important?

Without a proper estate plan in place, your loved ones may be left with a judge deciding the distribution of assets, or who should make decisions on your behalf. This can take months, sometimes years. Probate or Guardianship proceedings can be expensive, complicated, and painful for your family members.

When you’re young and healthy, setting up an estate plan and organizing your assets probably feels more like a burden than a benefit. And yet you would never place that burden on your family, especially at a point when they may be grieving. We can help.

At Halling & Cayo, we offer a flexible and personal approach that you just don’t get at other firms. Avoid the confusion and anxiety that could accompany estate planning. Find relief in knowledge. We will help you invest in your family’s future.




Create the right plan with an attorney who understands your situation.

Do you know the best time to create or update your will? Are you aware of inheritance laws in Wisconsin? Do you know how to avoid sending your loved ones to probate court? Have you set up powers of attorney and assigned a personal representative? Have you considered putting your assets into a Trust?

At Halling & Cayo, the primary goal of our experienced attorneys is to educate. Depending on the nature of your assets and your family, estate planning can be complex, but that doesn’t mean it has to be painful. We help you determine the most seamless way to distribute your estate after you’re gone. Once you understand the legal nature of your assets and the types of plans available to you, the process becomes far less daunting. Together, we will develop an individualized plan that meets your unique goals, your budget, and the needs of your loved ones.

When is the best time to put an Estate Plan in place?




When planning with us, here’s what to expect.

The future looks very different to an 18-year-old, verses a couple expecting their first baby, verses someone on the brink of retirement. We’ve helped clients of all ages, and from all walks of life, with simple wills to complex trusts. We know that over-planning can unnecessarily drive up costs and complicate estate plans. That’s why we get to know you and determine the right balance.

Whatever your unique situation, we’re here to guide you through it.

Estate Planning Process At-A-Glance

  • In our free initial consultation, we discuss the estate planning process, review your assets and estate planning goals, and work with you to develop a plan moving forward.
  • With the help of our thorough, easy-to-use workbook, we learn more about you and equip with you the knowledge you need to walk out of our office with confidence and clarity about your next steps.
  • Once we agree on a plan, we draft your estate planning documents and then meet with you to review and revise the documents until they meet your needs and goals.
  • We can help you finalize financial, health, and guardianship decisions.
  • We can help you make decisions on who should act as your health care and financial agents under your powers of attorney if you become incapacitated.
  • We can help you choose a guardian for your minor children and a personal representative to distribute your assets to their rightful owners.
  • We can assist you with preparing beneficiary designations and transfer on death designations for life insurance, bank accounts, and other assets.
  • We can help identify assets that are susceptible to going through probate and come up with solutions to transfer those assets without probate.
  • We can coordinate with your financial advisor when your plan is in place to make sure it functions as intended when your family needs it to.
  • We can help move assets into revocable and irrevocable trusts.
  • We can also give special attention to any unique circumstances like planning for loved ones with special needs, living or extended travel abroad, providing for pets, and transferring title to firearm or out-of-state property.
  • Once completed, we periodically review your plans with you during any major life changes, and we make adjustments when appropriate.
  • Above all else, implementation is key. We make sure documents are properly executed, and can work with you to make sure beneficiary designations are properly completed so your estate plan functions as intended.

Each Estate Planning situation is unique and requires individual attention of an attorney in order to provide proper legal counsel. For more information about the Estate Planning process, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section below. To speak with a trusted attorney under no obligation to proceed, request a free consultation.




Meet the Estate Planning team at Halling & Cayo.

We are proud to serve the community members of southeastern Wisconsin. When you choose Halling & Cayo as your firm, you have access to an entire team of subject-matter experts, from inheritance law to marital property to financial guidance. With the support of our firm as a whole, our goal is to inform you of your rights and offer expert legal counsel through creative problem-solving.

If you decide to move forward with your attorney after your consultation, rest assured you will have a strong, honest, and attentive ally who will consider your circumstances with a fresh perspective and with full attention to detail, so you walk away feeling secure and confident in your estate plan.


Below you’ll find some high-level answers to common questions, but please be aware that so many aspects of estate planning depends on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. These answers are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. For your specific questions, please feel free to contact us.

Why should I hire an attorney to help me with my will?

Education and enforceability.

There are lots of free and low cost options for preparing estate planning documents. But even simple estate planning documents have required language that can be complex and dense in order for them to be legally enforceable. There’s no reason you should feel daunted or confused during estate planning. As attorneys, this is the value we add:

  • We help you understand what the documents mean.
  • We ensure that documents you incorporate into your estate plan are appropriate for your needs.
  • We also ensure that the documents are properly executed so that they do what they are meant to do when they are required.

If you have questions about preparing your estate plan, we can help walk you through it. Contact us for a free consultation ›

What happens if a person dies without a will in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, if someone dies without a will, more likely than not, the decedent’s assets will pass through probate according to the law of intestate succession, Chapter 852 Wisconsin statutes, which spells out who receives your assets when you die.

What is probate?

In general, probate is the process of transferring assets from a person who has died to the appropriate heirs or beneficiaries. This process is overseen by the probate court, usually in the county where the decedent lived.

It is often the decedent’s family who is tasked with pursuing probate in order to transfer the decedent’s assets. Probate generally requires:

  • one or more appearances in court
  • can take anywhere from six months to more than a year to complete

Families often find that they need to engage the services of an attorney, a tax professional, and a financial professional in order to complete the probate process, all at a cost to the decedent’s estate.

Probate courts also oversee guardianship proceedings. Guardianship proceedings most often occur when an individual lacks capacity to manage his or her affairs and has not previously appointed an agent to handle those affairs through a power of attorney. Guardianship proceedings require appearances in court and are generally resolved in ninety days. The cost of the guardianship proceeding is often paid by the person for whom a guardian is appointed.

How can I prevent my loved ones from going to probate court?

A well-thought-out, carefully prepared, and regularly maintained estate plan is a very good way to avoid having your loved ones go through the time, cost, and inconvenience of probate court when you pass away.

What is a living will?

A living will — or “declaration to physicians” — is a document in which you express your wishes in terms of medical care and appoint a healthcare agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. It is much like a healthcare power of attorney and carries with it specific requirements in order for it to be effective.

What are powers of attorney?

Powers of attorney are documents in which one person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent, to take action on the principal’s behalf. Powers of attorney are only effective while the principal is alive.

  • Healthcare powers of attorney allow an agent to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to make your own decisions.
  • Financial powers of attorney allow an agent to take care of your financial matters when you are unable to do so.

What’s a personal representative?

A personal representative is an individual appointed by a probate court to collect the decedent’s assets and distribute them according to either the decedent’s estate plan or the laws of intestate succession. In preparing a will, people often nominate a person who they prefer to have the court appoint as their personal representative if their estate goes through probate.

What is the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust?

Generally, an individual who creates a revocable trust reserves the right to either change the trust or revoke it while they are alive. Conversely, an irrevocable trust generally cannot be revoked or amended once it is created.

Can I change my will after it’s complete?

A will — like most other estate planning documents — can be changed after it is created. Often times, changing these documents requires specific action by the person who created the document, and it requires specific language in order to make the change effective. If you need to update your will or any of your estate documents, contact us for a free consultation.

I have a will, but when should I update it?

There are many reasons to update an estate plan. Often, people make changes to the personal representative, trustee, or agent under their powers of attorney once they become adults. Major changes in job, relationship, or finances often precipitate revisions to estate plans. As individuals age, they often update their estate plans so as to allow their children, or other family members, to assist them with handling financial and health care matters. Please contact us if you need to update your estate plan.

Do you help estate planning for same-sex couples?

Yes! Same sex couples, whether they are married or not, often have unique estate planning concerns related to transfer of assets upon death and making health care decisions. We work with same-sex couples to identify these unique concerns and often draft customized language to ensure that their intentions are clearly and effectively communicated in their estate planning documents. If you need help with your estate plan, contact us for a free consultation.

Can you help with cohabitation agreements?

Yes! Couples who cohabitate often have unique concerns about how financial matters will be addressed during the relationship, and in preserving the contributions they made to the relationship in the event it ends. We can help identify these concerns and then draft an a document addresses the concerns and comports with unique legal requirements for cohabitation agreements. If you need help with your estate plan, contact us for a free consultation.

What is the hardest thing about estate planning?

Taking action.
When a person is sued, getting divorced, or has been arrested, he or she often cannot move fast enough to secure legal representation and work to resolve those matters.

Estate planning is unique in that most people feel an urge to put an estate plan in place but never quite get to taking action. That inaction simply pushes the sense of urgency down the road, most often on to family members, and often at greater expense then if an estate plan had been put into place.

At Halling & Cayo, S.C., we work hard not only to ensure that our clients understand and have an appropriate estate plan in place, we move the estate planning process along efficiently. If you need help with your estate plan, we’d be happy to walk you through the process. Get your free consultation ›


The first thing on everyone’s mind when they deal with probate court is: how could we have avoided this? Learn more about how we can help you invest in a better future for your loved ones. For further questions about Estate Planning, contact us for your FREE Consultation by filling out the form below or via phone (414) 271-3400.

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