Avoiding Formal Probate in Wisconsin

While Wisconsin courts try to move estates as quickly as possible through the probate process, some estates can take longer than others to gain the necessary approvals. If the probate court decides the estate needs to undergo formal probate, it could take much longer and become more costly.

Although not every estate can avoid undergoing formal probation, in most circumstances it should be unnecessary, especially if proper estate planning is done. By taking the time to sit down, think, and plan for the future, most folks can leave their estate is the best possible condition and avoid a long and distracting process.

Most estates in Wisconsin pass through the informal probate process with minimal supervision by a Probate Registrar in the county where the deceased lived. Also referred to as the Register in Probate, this office assists the judiciary and public by handling estates, guardianships, trusts and involuntary commitments.

An estate will usually not have to enter formal probate, which usually entails supervision by the county Circuit Court, as long as the deceased created a will before his or her passing and the executor of the estate follows certain administrative procedures. Instead of a Probate Registrar handling the estate, the case is instead heard before a judge who will need to approve various actions taken by the administrator of the estate.

Estates without wills are known as being in intestacy and will automatically need to undergo formal probate and follow Wisconsin’s inheritance laws. Wills may also need to enter into formal probate before a court if beneficiaries or other interested parties step forward to make claims to the estate, even if the deceased created a last will and testament.

When administering an estate through the probate process, the executor of the estate will need to secure waivers and consent from beneficiaries. When beneficiaries enter their waivers and consent, they are essentially telling the court that they no longer wished to be notified of hearings about the case and allow the executor to follow through with the wishes in the deceased’s last will and testament.

Because heirs can raise objections to their share of an estate, and possibly enter the estate into a formal probate, individuals should consider the emotions and considerations of heirs when drafting a will. By letting heirs know ahead of time about their shares of the estate, it may be possible to mediate disputes and give family the time to properly process the outcomes of the will.

Should the estate need to undergo a formal probate process, whether supervised or unsupervised, you will need a Wisconsin trusts and estate lawyer to help represent the executor of the estate at court hearings. However, consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer when crafting a last will and testament can help plan for and attempt to prevent an estate from ever needing to go through a time consuming and expensive formal probate.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form.