Trusts & Estates

Practice Chair

Melissa S. Kampmann



For over 80 years, attorneys in the Trusts and Estates practice group at Ruder Ware have counseled individuals, corporate executives, small business owners, dairy farmers, and philanthropists on how to prepare for the future. Whether a client’s situation is straightforward or complex, our attorneys are able to implement creative and flexible strategies that fulfill a client’s personal and business needs.

We offer comprehensive services in business planning; income, gift, and estate tax planning; and trust and estate administration. If clients seek professional management of their assets and simplification of their lives, we can serve as trustees of their assets, pay their bills, and handle distributions of money. If clients are concerned about protecting their assets, we can design trusts that provide protection from the claims of creditors. If clients desire to provide for future generations, our attorneys are experienced in succession planning and working through family dynamics to achieve broad-based acceptance of a coordinated plan. Simply put, our trusts and estates team is dedicated to helping you protect, manage, and dispose of your assets as you see fit, whether that is during your lifetime, in the event of your incapacity, or upon your death.

Our trusts and estates attorneys are widely respected among their peers. Some have been elected as fellows of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the preeminent estate planning organization for attorneys in the United States. Others have been recognized for their service to the State Bar of Wisconsin in the areas of taxation, elder law, estate planning, and trust administration and have been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers of America and Super Lawyers.

Recent Achievements of the Trusts & Estates practice group include:

  • Completed the transition of a successful family business to the next generation. The transition was carefully planned and implemented over several years to lessen the burden of gift, estate, and income taxes; fully determine the commitment of the succeeding generation; and transfer control in an orderly fashion without a disruption in business. Through counseling and business structure, the senior generation resolved to transfer authority to the next and succeeding generation, thus keeping the business in the family.

  • Implemented an elaborate asset protection plan for a married couple that resulted in all assets being saved except for a couple of months of care. The complex plan resulted in additional savings of more than six months of skilled nursing home care at $6,000 to $7,000 per month.
  • Successfully re-formed a charitable trust allowing the trustee to distribute a percentage of trust assets instead of trust income to the charity. The charity had a difficult time maintaining its operations because of the current economic environment. The trust modification allows the trustee to invest for the highest possible return without regard to whether that return is from income or capital appreciation. This permits a steady flow of money to the charity without jeopardizing the continuation of the trust.
  • Assisted an elderly widow on the completion of a medical assistance eligibility plan. Although the widow had made a series of potentially disqualifying gifts prior to needing nursing home level care, the plan preserved prior gifts and protected more than one-half of the proceeds from the sale of her home. The sale proceeds from the home remained protected in an asset protection trust for the benefit of the family.

The services provided by our Trusts & Estates practice group include:

Founded in 1920, Ruder Ware provides business, employment, estate planning, and litigation services through its offices in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.  A full-service law firm, over 40 attorneys provide clients with a one-stop approach to their legal needs. Ruder Ware, Business Attorneys for Business Success.

Getting Started: Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on January 15, 2020 by

For many people, the first time they start thinking about an estate plan is when they start to have family members that depend on them financially – typically, a spouse or a child. Let’s take, for example, a young married couple with young children. The couple may think they need a will, but they might […]

Call to Action: Review Your Estate Plan in Light of the SECURE Act

Posted on January 7, 2020 by

The federal appropriations bill enacted into law on December 20, 2019 changed federal law in ways that may affect your retirement assets, including 401(k) plans and IRAs.  Those changes, often referred to as the “SECURE Act,” may affect you during your lifetime and also the way those retirement assets may be distributed to your beneficiaries […]

Upcoming Travel Plans? How to Temporarily Delegate Parental Authority

Posted on December 19, 2019 by

Picture this: you are lying on the beach in sunny Aruba, thinking about your best friend, Kristin, who valiantly volunteered to watch your three children while you and your spouse got away from the Wisconsin winter for the first time in ages – when all of a sudden you see a hotel staff member racing […]

My spouse is on Medicaid, now what?

Posted on November 14, 2019 by

It is common for a client whose spouse is receiving Medicaid to lack adequate estate planning to protect those Medicaid benefits in the event the client dies before their spouse. Yet, after all of the time and energy spent to qualify for Medicaid, it would be awful to see those benefits lost simply because proper […]

Create Your Digital Estate Plan

Posted on October 9, 2019 by

It seems like our world becomes more digital each day.  We can manage almost every aspect of our lives online.  But, unless you have updated your estate plan in the last few years, chances are good that your estate planning documents do not address what will happen to your electronic documents, e-mails, text messages, blogs, […]

My Parents Want to Leave My Son With Special Needs an Inheritance…Will He Lose His Benefits?

Posted on August 28, 2019 by

Leaving an inheritance to a loved one with special needs who is or will be receiving government benefits (SSI, medical assistance, long term care services) is tricky and can have unintended negative consequences if not done carefully. Well-meaning gifts may result in the loved one (who I will refer to as the “Special Needs Beneficiary”) […]

Long-Term Care Insurance – Is it an Option for You?

Posted on July 17, 2019 by

As our aging population grows so does the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care services.  Contrary to popular belief, Medicare will only cover certain short-term stays and typically will not cover non-rehabilitative long-term care.  This leaves many elderly and disabled individuals with few options for covering costs.  Often, at first, family […]

Is My IRA Safe From the Nursing Home?

Posted on June 11, 2019 by

After working and saving, clients are concerned that unexpected costs will become unplanned for drains on their Retirement Accounts (e.g, 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, 403(b), etc.). As the need to pay for nursing home care nears, those concerns grow and questions begin to be asked about whether retirement accounts are safe from the nursing home. […]

Who Gets Your Property if You Die Without a Will?

Posted on May 16, 2019 by

Some clients decide to hire an attorney to prepare their estate planning documents because they do not like the default laws in Wisconsin about who gets their property if they die without a will.  In Wisconsin, if you die without a will, or your will doesn’t give all of your property away, your property will […]

Myth Busters: Dispelling 5 Myths About Medicaid’s Long-Term Care Coverage

Posted on March 12, 2019 by

Did you know that Medicaid is the largest source of funding for nursing home care?  Medicaid, often called Medical Assistance or Title 19, has many rules that are confusing, and thus a mystery to many people.  Even more of a mystery surrounds the idea that you can protect your assets and still be eligible for […]

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