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This article discusses part 1 of our 5-part series on key information regarding Informal Estate Administration in Wisconsin.

This article discusses part 1 of our 5-part series on key information regarding Informal Estate Administration in Wisconsin.

Administration, both formal and informal: 

The probate court can oversee various different sorts of estate management. Formal Administration and Informal Administration, for example, both require the court to appoint a personal agent (formerly known as an "executor"). An attorney is required to assist with a Formal Administration. Without the assistance of an attorney, Informal Administration may be obtained. 

Summary Settlement

Summary Settling is a method of estate administration that does not require the services of an attorney and is designed to aid in the settlement of small estates. If the decedent had a surviving spouse/domestic partner or minor children, a summary settlement is available for estates valued at $50,000 or less. 

If the value of the estate does not exceed specific charges, expenses, allowances, and claims, regardless of whether there is a surviving spouse/domestic partner or young children, a summary settlement may be available. The worth of the estate is determined by subtracting any debts for which the estate's property serves as security from the gross quantity of assets. 

Summary Assignment

Summary Assignment is a method of estate administration for estates with a value of $50,000 or less. It was created to help with the settlement of small estates that couldn't be settled by a Summary Settlement. It does not necessitate the use of an attorney.  

Property Transfers without the Need for Estate Administration  

For estates valued at $50,000 or less, a process known as "Transfer by Affidavit" can be used to transfer a decedent's assets without the need for a court-supervised administration. The individual who fills out and uses this form bears legal duties, thus it's a good idea to talk to an attorney before determining whether or not to utilize a "Transfer by Affidavit" form. 

INFORMAL ESTATE ADMINISTRATION IS NOT ALLOWED IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES. 

If a Will expressly forbids informal administration, formal administration will be required. If there is no Will (or if there is a Will but the selected personal representatives refuse to accept the appointment), and all parties involved do not request or consent in writing to informal administration and the designation of the same person as personal representative, formal administration will be necessary. Formal administration will be required if an interested party requests formal administration for the whole administration of the estate.

The probate registrar is responsible for determining whether a Will is eligible for probate and whether an application for Informal Administration should be denied due to a failure to meet statutory requirements or for other reasons. When the probate registrar declines the application, informal administration is not permitted. The refusal of an application does not preclude a person with an interest in the estate from filing a petition for Formal Administration.  

Where Do I Know If Informal Estate Administration Is Right For Me?  

We are unable to advise you on estate administration without being retained and informed of your specific situation because it is a legal decision. The existence or absence of interested parties who disagree on what should be done, tax issues, the size of the estate, claims, and the requirement to have a court determine or settle matters such as contested claims, the validity of a will, the meaning of the contents of a will, or who are the heirs, all influence which estate administration technique is most suited.  

To begin, ascertain if the decedent died testate (with a Will) or intestate (without a Will) (without a Will). It is critical that you do a thorough search for the decedent's Last Will and Testament. If you can't discover a Will after a thorough search, it's possible that the dead didn't leave a Last Will and any estate administration will have to be done "intestate" (without a Will). If the decedent did not tell you where his or her original Will was kept, look in the deceased's bank's safety deposit box, the safe or fire box at the decedent's house, or wherever the decedent stored his or her other essential papers. The original Will is sometimes found in the Office of Register in Probate, where it was lodged for "safekeeping" prior to the decedent's death. However, not all counties accept such “safekeeping” deposits. The original Will is sometimes in the ownership of the lawyer who drafted it. It's worth noting that the Will may be modified by an original Codicil or Codicils. 

Then, according to the statutes, establish a list of the heirs.  Make a list of the beneficiaries if there is a Will (including any Codicils) (those named in the Will and Codicils).  

Last but not least, establish a list of all assets in which the decedent had a stake. Real estate and all personal property (cash, CDs, stocks, bonds, automobiles, machines, promissory notes, and so on) are included. The estimated worth of each item, as well as how each item is owned, should be included on the list (i.e. solely, jointly, marital, payable at death, etc.). If you can't get all of this information because the assets are solely owned, make the best list you can for the time being.  

You're now ready to choose the type of estate administration method that will be used to settle the decedent's final affairs. It is critical to select the appropriate procedure. You should consult an attorney about the decedent's Will, the heirs' and/or beneficiaries' working connection, and the decedent's asset status, as stated above.  

Click here to continue on to part two if it appears that informal estate management is the recommended method.  

Request a consultation with an Attorney. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

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