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.

News Updates Just in Time for the New Year


The enrollment cap on Family Care has been lifted.  This will open up Family Care funding to many seniors in need because there is currently a waiting list to get into the program due to enrollment restrictions.  According to news sources, Gov. Scott Walker received a directive from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove the enrollment cap.  Regardless of how the cap removal occurred, this is good news for those needing access to care services in their homes, assisted living, community-based residential facilities, adult family homes, etc.


A new law has been enacted (2009 Wisc. Act 90) that requires dog breeders and dealers to obtain a license and meet guidelines regarding the treatment of animals.  The health and care standards include requirements relating to veterinary care, animal housing, hydration, etc.  The law provides that breeders and dealers operating without a license may be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to nine months.  This law seems to have some teeth, and our state’s animals will benefit.


Happy New Year to all ~ Joanne


December Updates


If you have a senior family member who is residing in a nursing home, CBRF, or in their own home (and essentially confined), please take note of options under Wisconsin law that avoid the requirement of a photo ID.  A very informative online brochure is availabe from Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board that outlines options for confined voters.  The brochure is available at


The Veterans Administration has provided for a 3.6% cost-of-living increase for veterans and surviving spouses of veterans receiving the pension benefit.  Note that the pension benefit refers to the Aid and Attendance benefit, also called the Low Income Pension Benefit or Housebound Benefit.  Veterans, veterans with healthy spouses, and widows and widowers of veterans may qualify for the pension benefit if they are over age 65 and if the total unreimbursed health care expenses (such as necessary home health care, assisted living, and skilled nursing costs) exceed the applicant’s income.


According to the State of Wisconsin, the most recently published average cost of nursing home care throughout the state is $6,554.00.  This number is used as the divisor to determine the penalty period for divestment within the current five year look back period.  Many clients remember the look back period as three years.  However, for gifting or divestments made after January 1, 2009, the look back period is 60 months, or five years.