An Overview of the Probate Process in Wisconsin
Many people have heard the term “probate” as part of the estate administration process but are unsure how the term interacts with certain estate planning tools like wills or trusts. Continue reading for a brief overview of the probate process.
In general, probate is the legal process of administering the estate of someone who dies. Within probate, the decedent’s will is authenticated and admitted, the interested parties are notified, and the directives in the will are executed. Even if a decedent dies without a will, the probate process may still be used to distribute the property the person leaves behind under the default laws of intestacy. The probate process also facilitates the identification of creditors, due and outstanding taxes, and ensures that any claims are paid.
An individual named as the “Personal Representative” has the responsibility of managing the probate process and the administration of an estate. A personal representative should be named within a will. If no personal representative is named, or the decedent did not leave a will, the court will appoint someone to serve as personal representative.
You likely have heard the terms “informal administration” and “formal administration” and may be unsure how those terms relate to probate. In an informal administration of an estate, the personal representative files all necessary documents with the register in probate where the decedent was domiciled; however, in a formal administration of an estate, a probate judge manages and oversees the process. A formal administration is usually required if there have been objections to the will. Informal administration is generally less time consuming and without continuous court supervision.
There are many ways to avoid the probate process with proper legal planning. Property that a decedent owns jointly will automatically transfer to the other owner. If a person dies and the amount of property that person owns is less than $50,000, the personal representative can use a form called a “transfer by affidavit” to distribute the estate and avoid probate altogether. Now that you know a little about the probate process in Wisconsin, you may have questions about your own estate plan and how to avoid probate. Contact an attorney at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys at Law, LLC for sound legal advice regarding estate plans that deftly navigate (or avoid) this probate process.