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When a person dies, it is necessary to collect his or her assets, pay creditors and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries. This is known as the probate process. If a will exists, the court will need to declare it valid as part of the probate process. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to Wisconsin intestacy laws.

Wisconsin has four types of probate proceedings.

  • Two are for estates that are valued at less than $50,000 and are known as summary settlement.
  • A third type of probate – informal administration – does not require continuous court supervision.
  • The fourth type of probate is formal administration. It requires formal circuit court supervision. Formal administration is necessary when some beneficiaries do not consent to informal administration.

The estate planning lawyers at Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C., help personal representatives navigate the probate process. We also protect the interests of other beneficiaries and represent clients in disputes regarding estate administration.

Not All Assets Pass Through Probate

Most wills designate a family member or trusted friend of the decedent as a personal representative or executor. This person is charged with steering the decedent’s estate through probate.

It should be noted that a number of assets do not need to pass through probate. These include bank accounts, real estate, motor vehicles, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets that were co-owned by the decedent and another person, such as a spouse.

In addition, trusts can be created while the person is alive that allow other assets to pass to heirs without going through probate. Many people wish to avoid the delays, costs and public nature of probate. We work with our clients to create estate plans that accomplish these objectives.

If probate is necessary, it can take several months to a year or more to complete depending upon the size of the estate, the complexity of the will and whether anyone contests the will.

Your Best Interests Are Our Priority

Our attorneys bring a personal approach to the probate process. We understand the emotions that family members are dealing with after the death of a loved one. We guide you through the process with an emphasis on efficiency and empathy.

Call 920-831-0300 or email us to schedule a consultation. We represent clients throughout Wisconsin from offices in Appleton and Green Bay.