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This article discusses “What is a Probate Claim in Wisconsin?”

Probate is the legal process by which a person's properties are transferred following their death in Wisconsin and other states. The procedure is overseen by a court of law and is intended to protect those with a legitimate interest in the estate of a deceased individual. Probate is used to transfer a decedent's properties to creditors and taxing authorities in addition to survivors.  

Unless the property falls under certain exemptions, any Wisconsin estate worth more than $50,000 must go through probate. Assets held jointly with another individual, life insurance income, and retirement accounts with a beneficiary other than the deceased person's estate are all examples of exemptions. Furthermore, assets deposited in a revocable living trust do not have to go through probate.  

The decedent's personal representative (also known as an executor) is normally in charge of the probate process. If no one has selected a personal representative, the court will usually nominate a parent, financial institution, or trust firm. In Wisconsin, a legal representative is responsible for identifying all of the deceased person's properties, managing those assets during the probate process, paying any unpaid debts, taxes, or estate expenses, making the necessary distributions, and distributing any residual assets to the decedent's heirs or designees.  

If you are the legal representative of an estate and are overwhelmed, we encourage you to request a probate or after-death consultation with one of our knowledgeable lawyers.  

The probate process in Wisconsin may be formal or informal. If there is a disagreement on how an estate should be divided, a structured probate procedure must be used. If an estate is subject to formal probate, the immediate representative of the decedent must be represented by an attorney. However, when an estate is probated informally, it is often a good idea for a personal representative to meet with a lawyer who is familiar with such matters. Any informal probate hearings should also be attended by an attorney.  

Probate expenses are usually covered by the estate. If the assets are transferred by a structured probate process, the costs must also be accepted by a judge. A decedent's estate would also be used to pay state and federal income taxes, as well as any required estate taxes. The federal estate tax is deductible from up to $11.4 million in assets in 2019. In 2026, the figure is expected to drop to about $6 million. The state of Wisconsin currently does not levy an inheritance tax. In addition, properties that transfer to a surviving spouse are usually excluded from estate taxes.  

Despite the fact that Wisconsin law requires probate to be completed within 18 months, a court can grant an extension. Probate in Wisconsin takes about six months on average. Creditors must be notified, appropriate income tax returns must be filed, and any conflicts must be resolved during the probate process. Creditors have four months from the date of notification to file any claims against the assets. Creditors are barred from filing lawsuits against the estate until the four-month limit has expired.  

When it comes to settling a probate dispute, funeral expenses take precedence. Taxing authorities, secured creditors, and unsecured creditors that have filed a petition are the next to arrive. Finally, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. Precautionary planning, such as the use of living trusts, can minimize or remove the need for your loved ones to wait for the probate process to be completed. Contact our knowledgeable attorneys for more guidance on the probate process or setting up a living trust.

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.

To learn about “Illinois Probate Claims Explained,” click here.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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