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The K & B Blog

How to Create a Valid Will in Wisconsin

How to Create a Valid Will in Wisconsin

Many people avoid the topic of creating a will because death can be a difficult subject to confront, or they simply don’t believe they have that much property to convey. However, making a will is an important task because the document dictates what happens to your property after your death. For example, you might have people to whom you would like to leave some of your property who are not your children or spouse. Perhaps you have a charitable organization that you would like to support with part of your estate. Whatever plans you have for your property after your death, you should memorialize them in a will.

 Even more importantly, a will must be created according to certain statutory rules in order for it to actually have the power to carry out the plans you make. If a will does not follow those rules, a court may declare it invalid. If a will is declared invalid, the property in question will follow the laws of intestacy adopted by the state legislature, which are unlikely to be the same careful plans you made for your property.

Any adult who is of sound mind can create a will. You should inventory what kinds of property you have and understand that some property cannot be conveyed in a will (pensions, 401(k)s, insurance policies with named beneficiaries, for example). An attorney can assist you in identifying the kinds of property you have. Third, you must decide who you want to leave your property to. The last step of the drafting process is to decide who your executor will be. An executor will “execute” your will by managing your estate through the probate process; this person may also be referred to as the “personal representative” of your estate.

 Once you make all of the decisions above, your will must be typed. A will written by hand (otherwise known as a “holographic” will) is invalid under Wisconsin state law. Don’t forget to sign and date the will in the presence of two witnesses. Those witnesses must be adults who are not related to you, and they must not be beneficiaries in your will. These witnesses must also sign the will. And voila! You have a valid will that will effectively carry out your plans for your property after your death.            

Some steps in the creation of a will are complex, and it can be hard to know what kinds of property you have and how to clearly convey that property to the people and organizations you care about. Now that you are familiar with the process of creating a valid will, let the attorneys at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC, help you make these important plans.