Wisconsin Probate Attorneys

The death of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional time. After an individual passes away, his or her assets and property may enter into probate. Wynn at Law, LLC understands how difficult these situations can be on the personal representative and beneficiaries. The situation can become more stressful if there is a dispute about the deceased’s will. Wynn at Law, LLC’s experienced probate attorneys will honor the deceased’s last wishes while distributing assets in a way that resolves disputes.

While an estate is in probate, you may be working through the estate’s taxes and debts for months. The last thing you want to worry about while you are grieving is sending letters to creditors, distributing assets, or compiling a final accounting. Our probate attorneys will help you through this process while removing as much of your worry as we can. Wynn at Law, LLC’s attorneys listen to our clients and help make the probate process as simple and worry-free as possible.

Last will and testament for Wisconsin

What is Probate?

In Wisconsin, probate is the legal process through which an individual’s assets are transferred on death. Probate is supervised by a court of law and is designed to protect beneficiaries’ interests and the rights of others who may have a claim to the estate.

During the probate process, a will is legally proven as the last true testament of the deceased. If the deceased has left a will, it must be filed with the court, even if probate isn’t needed to distribute the decedent’s property. If the individual dies without a will, they are considered to have died “intestate”. In these cases, Wisconsin’s intestacy laws will determine the deceased’s asset distribution.

The probate court’s ruling is the first step in distributing the deceased person’s assets according to the will and resolving all claims. The court will officially designate an executor to carry out the will’s instructions. Usually, the executor is named in the will; but the executor is named in probate court if a will is contested.

 

What Happens in Probate?

  • Determinations are made about taxes and money owed to creditors
  • Creditors are notified, and legal notices published
  • Property and/or possessions may be sold to pay debts or distribute assets evenly to the beneficiaries
  • Lawsuits are settled: If there is a lawsuit over the death or the deceased was party to pending cases (if possible)
  • Estate taxes, gift taxes, and inheritance taxes are considered if the estate exceeds certain thresholds

On average, probate takes at least six months. This time is necessary as it allows creditors to be notified, tax returns to be filed, and disputes to be resolved.

In Wisconsin, probate can be a formal or informal administration process, and Wynn at Law, LLC can help with both.

Informal Probate

Most probate proceedings in Wisconsin are civil and able to be managed without a judge. These informal probate cases have no disputes between beneficiaries and only a few creditors. Informal proceedings are often handled with an application to the court, followed by summary judgment. For informal probate proceedings, the county’s register in probate will supervise the informal estate administration. 

Formal Probate

A probate judge is required to preside over formal administration. Formal administration is used if the will is contested, there are disputes among beneficiaries, or creditor issues. If issues arise during informal proceedings, the case switches to formal administration. Formal probate requires the assistance of an estate administration attorney and a personal representative to be appointed. 

Walworth County Probate CourtKenosha County Probate Court

Walworth County, WI, Probate Court and Judicial Center

Do I need a Probate Attorney?

If an estate goes through formal probate, the personal representative for the proceedings must be represented by an attorney. In these cases, the personal representative may hire an attorney; the chosen attorney doesn’t need to be the attorney that drafted the will.

Informal probate cases do not require a probate attorney; however, consulting with an attorney experienced in probate is highly recommended. If you are a personal representative for an estate in probate, the attorneys at Wynn at Law, LLC are available for a probate or after death consultation.

Probate Avoidance Attorneys

Probate court proceedings can be long, time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. However, with proactive estate planning, it is possible to avoid probate entirely. Wynn at Law, LLC recommends everyone have a detailed estate plan to minimize or avoid probate.

If the need for a Probate Attorney arises, we are confident that Wynn at Law, LLC can help guide you through the probate process while mediating your disputes. Please contact us by email or call 262-725-0175. Our law offices are located in Lake Geneva, WI, Delavan, WI, and Salem, WI, serving Southeastern Wisconsin.

Ways To Avoid Probate In Wisconsin

Not all assets are counted in probate. Some assets are exempt because they are transferred directly to the beneficiaries. Below are some useful estate planning tools that avoid probate:

  • Life Insurance Policies – A life insurance policy is paid directly to the beneficiary and avoids probate.
  • Death Benefits – Benefits paid upon death are paid directly to the listed beneficiary.
  • IRAs, Pensions, 401(k), or Other Retirement Plans – If there is a beneficiary listed on the accounts, the balances will be transferred directly.
  • Bank or Investment Accounts – Accounts with a designated Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) document.
  • Property Titled in Joint Ownership – Joint tenants will own 100% of that real estate at the time of the decedent’s death.
  • Real Estate w/ TODD  – Real Estate can be re-titled to avoid probate through a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD).
  • Living Trusts – In Wisconsin, you can establish a living trust to avoid probate for virtually any assets: real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. – as long as the ownership is transferred to the trustee of the trust.

After all of the exempted assets are removed for estates, in Wisconsin, the small estate threshold is $50,000. If the estate is valued below $50,000 and there is a will, probate is avoided. If there is no will, or if the estate is more than $50,000, probate is required.

Probate Costs

Generally, probate costs are paid for by the estate. Probate expenses typically include court costs, probate bonds, fees paid to the personal representative, and attorney fees. Wynn at Law, LLC can provide a rough estimate of total probate fees after a consultation and a review of the estate’s basic information.

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Attorneys Specializing in Probate & Probate Avoidance

Before death, proper estate planning is an effective way to secure assets, avoid probate, prevent disagreements or disputes, and make the transition easier for loved ones. If you are looking to plan for the future or are currently facing probate for a loved one’s estate, Wynn at Law, LLC can help. Wynn at Law, LLC provides a complete range of probate and estate planning legal services.

Please contact us by email or call 262-725-0175. Our law offices are located in Lake Geneva, WI, Delavan, WI, and Salem, WI, serving Southeastern Wisconsin.

 




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