Many people do not consider contacting a probate lawyer until a loved one has already passed away. It is no easy task to talk about your death, which is why so many people avoid drafting their will. Fortunately, drafting a will can be a very easy process. While you can legally write a will for yourself, it is not recommended. Not using an experienced probate lawyer can result in mistakes in your will which could lead to personal liability lawsuits and challenges to your will after your death.
It is important to secure your last will and testament while you are well to ensure your estate will be passed along to your loved ones. It is one of the best things you can do for your loved ones while you are still alive. I specialize in probate law and can work with you to establish your will or help you plan your estate. I take a personal and collaborative approach to drafting a will or planning an estate. I will work with you every step on the way to ensure your will is accurate as well as legally sound.
Probate is a court supervised administration of a deceased person’s estate.
Wisconsin Probate Law Last will and testament Whether a deceased person’s estate requires a court-involved administration through probate is dependent upon the total value of the deceased person’s solely-owned assets at the time of death is $50,000.00 or more. Solely-owned assets include those that (1) are in the deceased person’s name alone or held by the deceased person as Tenants in Common or (2) do not have a specified beneficiary. An asset that is owned as joint tenants or that has a specified beneficiary is not a solely-owned asset and thus is not subject to a probate administration.
Examples of assets that are not solely owned and thus are not subject to probate include:
- IRAs, 401ks, life insurance, or other policies with beneficiary designations
- Joint or Paid on Death (POD) bank accounts
Real Property held in joint tenancy, such as a house titled in both a husband and wife’s name
A court-involved probate administration involves the appointment of an individual as the Personal Representative. That Personal Representative is responsible for identifying, marshaling, administering, accounting for and distributing those estate assets consistent with the deceased person’s Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or, if there is no Will, with Wisconsin law.
Please note that a Will does not avoid the probate process. This is a common misconception. If you want to avoid this process for your loved ones, consider a trust.
If the total of solely-owned assets is less than $50,000.00, a probate administration is not required. Instead, a Transfer by Affidavit may be appropriate. This is a non-court-involved administration.
Assets with a specified beneficiary may require the preparation and submission of various forms.
Assets titled in the name of a trust, rather than in the deceased person’s name, will need to be administered in a manner that is consistent with the terms of the trust documents.