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Common Questions And Answers About Probate

At King Law Offices, LLC, we have been guiding Wisconsin families through probate and trust administration since 1983. Our lawyer is deeply familiar with the intricate legal requirements, and he is available to advise you and assist you throughout the process.

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers about probate:

What Happens If My Loved One Didn’t Leave A Will?

If someone passes away without a will in Wisconsin, the decedent’s spouse (or registered domestic partner) will usually inherit all the property. The most common exception to this rule is when a decedent has children from outside the marriage. In this case, the spouse will usually inherit half of the property and the remaining half will be equally divided between all of the decedent’s children.

If someone dies childless and unmarried, the state will distribute the assets to other relatives in the following order:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Nieces/nephews
  • Grandparents
  • Decedents of grandparents

What If I Don’t Agree With The Terms Of The Will?

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to challenge a will. You may be able to do so if you believe the decedent was pressured or coerced into writing the will a certain way, for instance, or that he or she was mentally incompetent.

What Do I Need To Do If I’m Named As The Personal Representative?

If you are named as the personal representative, you have many legal responsibilities. It’s wise to work with a lawyer who can guide you through the exact steps you need to take. In general, however, you can expect to:

  • Determine the decedent’s assets, gather them and manage them during probate
  • Pay creditor claims, estate taxes and probate costs out of the estate’s assets
  • Distribute remaining assets to the appropriate heirs

How Does Formal Administration Differ From Informal Administration?

If the will is contested, the estate will have to go through formal administration, which is presided over by a probate judge. This route is typically the most expensive and the most involved.

If no conflicts arise, it’s likely that the estate can go through informal administration, which is overseen by the county register. This route is usually less expensive, and you may even be able to complete the process through the mail instead of having to appear in person.

Do I Really Need To Hire A Probate Attorney?

In some cases, you will have no option but to hire a lawyer. In formal probate administration, for instance, the personal representative is required to have an attorney.

Even in informal administration, however, it is a smart choice to retain a legal professional who can advise you. A lawyer can often streamline the process, clearly explain your rights and responsibilities, and help you avoid costly pitfalls.

Do you have other questions? Call our Madison office at 608-620-7285 or send us an email to set up a consultation with our attorney.