What You Need To Know about Wisconsin Probate

The probate process can be a difficult process to go through. Since probate occurs after a person has passed away, it can be hard to focus on legal matters during a time of grieving. Here is everything you need to know about probate in Wisconsin.

Which estates must go through probate in Wisconsin?

An estate must go through probate in Wisconsin if the estate is worth more than $50,000, and the deceased had a will. During the probate process, the will will have been executed and authenticated before being distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate process must be filed within 18 months of the death.

Wisconsin Probate Forms

The most common forms that an individual will likely need for the probate process in Wisconsin include:

Wisconsin Probate Process

The probate process in Wisconsin can be lengthy. Below is a brief overview of the related steps and action items:

  1. File the will along with a petition.
  2. After the will and the petition have been filed, appoint a personal representative that will be in charge of the probate process
  3. If the petition goes through and there is a consensus on who the personal representative is, the court will then approve the petition.
  4. The personal representative is required to notify the creditors and compile a list of assets that were owned by the deceased.
  5. The beneficiaries will need to be notified by the representative of the inventory and the accounting of the probate process.
  6. The personal representative will then have to consolidate and liquidate the assets, as well as retitle them while distributing leftover assets to the proper beneficiaries.
  7. Lastly, the bills and court costs must be paid.

How Long Does Probate Take in Wisconsin?

Due to the sensitive nature of probate and the possible complications that can arise when dividing the estate, probate can vary in each case. In the case of an estate that is small and uncomplicated, the probate process can be over in around six months. Short probate processes usually have shorter duration times if the will was uncontested and the validity was not argued about by the heirs. In the case of a large or a contested estate, the probate process can take two years or more.

Wisconsin Probate Costs

A more complicated estate can mean that the probate process will be more lengthy. In this case, the probate will cost more. Aside from filing fees and court costs, attorney fees will need to be paid to the probate attorney. If there are heirs and beneficiaries that wish to challenge the validity of the will, the probate process can get even more complicated, especially when personal attorneys are involved. In the case of the executor fees, Wisconsin state statute states that around 2% of the value of the estate will go towards executor fees.

Is it possible to avoid the probate process in Wisconsin?

Because of how long and emotionally inconvenient the probate process can be, the living may try to set things up and away, so the heirs and the beneficiaries do not have to wait until the probate process is over. If an asset is put into a trust, it will not be probated. The same policy of bypassing probate applies to payable on death bank accounts. Anything that allows you to designate a beneficiary (like a life insurance policy) will also allow the beneficiary to bypass the probate process.

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