Common Definitions and a Report on Medicaid and Family Care Changes


My estate planning clients often ask me to define or explain several terms that are extremely relevant and important to their estate planning process.  Following are the terms and definitions:

Personal Representative:  a personal representative is the person or entity who settles the deceased’s financial affairs, working through the court probate system.  If we are in the process of drafting your will (Last Will and Testament), I will need to know who you nominate to serve in this position.  Most spouses nominate each other and then provide me with alternate, or successor nominees.  Clients who choose trusts for their estate plan (properly drafted and managed trusts avoid the court probate system) still need to nominate personal representatives for their “pourover wills.”  Pourover wills are drafted hand-in-hand with trust documents.

Trustee:  a trustee is an individual or entity who sets aside property/financial assets to be used for the benefit of another person or persons, such as children.  The trustee manages the property and financial assets as provided by the terms of the document that created the arrangement (revocable living trust or testamentary trust).  A trustee is a fiduciary, meaning that the trustee is legally bound to act in the best interests of the beneficiary.

Guardian:  a guardian of the person is a person appointed by the court to take care of a minor child (or an incompetent adult).  The guardianship will remain in place until the minor turns age 18 (or until an incompetent adult is deemed competent).  A guardian of the estate is a person or entity appointed by the court to handle the financial affairs of a minor or incompetent adult.


Before January 1, 2012, Family Care and Medicaid applications were submitted directly to the applicant’s Economic Support Program in the county of residence.  Application processing took place in the same county.  As of January 1, the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Human Services re-organized and consolidated the counties into consortiums.  Waukesha County is grouped in the Moraine Lakes Consortium, which includes the counties of Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Washington, and Walworth.   Inquiries must now be made through the Moraine Lakes Consortium and not the individual county’s Economic Support division.

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