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In this article we will be reviewing How is a Wisconsin Estate Divided if There is No Will and answer the questions of: What Is the Effect of Having a Will?, What Happens if There is Not a Will?, Who Is Eligible to Inherit Under Intestate Succession in Wisconsin?, What Happens If the Decedent is Married? , What Happens When the Decedent Has Children That Were Not with Their Spouse?, What If the Decedent Did Not Have a Spouse or Living Children?, and Can the State Inherit the Decedent’s Property If There Is Not a Will?

In this article we will be reviewing How is a Wisconsin Estate Divided if There is No Will and answer the questions of:  

  • What Is the Effect of Having a Will?
  • What Happens if There is Not a Will?
  • Who Is Eligible to Inherit Under Intestate Succession in Wisconsin?
  • What Happens If the Decedent is Married?
  • What Happens When the Decedent Has Children That Were Not with Their Spouse?
  • What If the Decedent Did Not Have a Spouse or Living Children?
  • Can the State Inherit the Decedent’s Property If There Is Not a Will?

The State of Wisconsin has established a set of rules related to the manner in which decedent estates are administered. The state has provided a base set of inheritance rules which can be modified when the decedent has executed a will.

What Is the Effect of Having a Will?

Under Wisconsin law, if a person has a will this document will control the manner that property is passed down to respective heirs. The will also will define who is entitled to inherit property from the decedent. The decedent can also choose to include people that would not normally be entitled to inherit and may exclude people who would otherwise inherit.  

What Happens if There is Not a Will?

When a person dies without a will, the Wisconsin Intestacy laws will control the manner that the decedent’s estate is passed down. The State has provided set rules to ensure that the spouse, children, grandchildren or other relatives are able to receive the decedent’s property. The court will strictly apply these intestacy rules unless there are some exception that needs to be applied.

Who Is Eligible to Inherit Under Intestate Succession in Wisconsin?

Any person that is a valid heir of the decedent that did not commit a crime that invalidates their inheritance and outlives the decedent by 120 days may be eligible to inherit from an intestate estate.

What Happens If the Decedent is Married?

If the decedent was married, the spouse is eligible to receive 100% of the estate. The children of the marriage are not eligible to inherit so long as the spouse meets their eligibility requirements. If the spouse has predeceased or fails to outlive the decedent by 120 days, the children of the marriage receive 100% of the estate.

What Happens When the Decedent Has Children That Were Not with Their Spouse?

If the decedent had children with someone other than their spouse at the time of death, the spouse will be entitled to 50% of the decedent’s estate and the children from a separate person or relationship will be entitled to 50% of the estate. The children of the marital spouses are still not entitled to inherit if the spouse is eligible to inherit.

What If the Decedent Did Not Have a Spouse or Living Children?

If the decedent does not have a living spouse or any living children/grandchildren, the State allows for the closest living relatives to inherit the estate through per stripes inheritance. This means that the State will go up a generation to the parents of the decedent and find any living relatives. Through this process, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and grandnieces/nephews may be eligible to inherit the property of the decedent.  

Can the State Inherit the Decedent’s Property If There Is Not a Will?

Yes, in very rare instances. If there are no recognizable living relatives for the decedent there is an avenue which the State may assume the property. This is known as an escheated estate. The funds and property are held by the State for 10 years to allow for any heirs to discover the death of their relative and come forward with the State. After 10 years, the property is deemed to be State property for the use of the State.

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