How Do I Avoid Probate in Wisconsin?

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

How can you make sure your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries after your death without needing the court to step in? There are a few ways you can accomplish this with help from an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney.

Payable-on-Death Accounts

Payable-on-death accounts are financial accounts for which you have set up beneficiaries. Upon your death, the funds in these accounts will transfer to their beneficiaries without going through probate. However, the institution holding the funds may refuse to pay out the funds until a court steps in if it believes there may be a dispute.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds

Transfer-on-death deeds allow the property to transfer to another person in the event of the owner’s death. They may also transfer complete ownership to a partial owner when the other owner dies, such as in the case of shared property between spouses. The transfer-on-death designation of these deeds does not come into effect until the owner’s death. You can also change these deeds at any time before then.

Transfer by Affidavit

Heirs of the deceased, trustees of a trust created by the deceased, personal representatives of the estate, and guardians of the deceased can claim the assets of a small estate valued at $50,000 or less under Wisconsin law without formal probate. However, you must note the transferred property’s description and value.

Joint Tenancy

If two or more tenants have an equal interest in a property, the property may be able to be transferred to the surviving tenant(s) upon the death of one of them. If there are two joint tenants, the survivor becomes the sole owner. And if there are three or more joint tenants, the survivors become equal joint owners.

Survivorship Marital Property

Like joint tenancy, property jointly owned by a married couple can be designated as marital property and transferred to the surviving spouse’s full ownership. To prevent property from being considered marital property, you can also designate it as the individual property of one spouse.

Intestate Succession

Under Wisconsin’s intestate succession law, when a will does not state who should receive assets, the heirs to an estate may claim them. The priority by which they may make a claim is as follows:

  • The spouse or domestic partner of the deceased
  • The descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) of the deceased
  • The parents of the deceased
  • The siblings (brothers and sisters) of the deceased
  • The grandparents of the deceased and their descendants

Contact Our Wisconsin Estate Planning Attorneys Today

Estate planning is a complex matter, especially if you have a larger estate, many different accounts, or a lot of heirs. This is where the estate planning attorneys at Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C., come in. Our team will sit down with you to take stock of your entire estate and get your assets, documents, and accounts in order.

Contact our law offices in Appleton or Green Bay for a consultation with an experienced Wisconsin estate planning lawyer. We look forward to discussing how we can help you develop an estate plan that meets your needs and goals and provides the peace of mind you deserve.